Western Pa. elementary school wins national award for ag literacy

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a group of teachers stand together to receive an award
Chris Hoffman (right), president of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, recognizes the Community Agricultural Partnership at Summit Elementary School, in Butler, County, for winning a national ag education award. (submitted)

BUTLER, Pa. — The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization selected the Community Agricultural Partnership at Summit (CAPS) Elementary School, in Pennsylvania’s Butler Area School District, as the recipient of its 2023 Partnership in Agricultural Literacy Award.

CAPS was selected for its innovative effort to use an agricultural focus to expand student learning and meet the needs of the whole child, according to a release from the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation, which nominated the program for the award. CAPS is committed to cultivating lifelong learners and informed citizens with respect and appreciation for conservation, agriculture, and the outdoor environment.

The Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau celebrated CAPS on May 25 in the school’s outdoor classroom.

“Summit has created an environment of agricultural literacy by providing opportunities for students and occasionally their families to be immersed in agriculture throughout the year by incorporating it into the students’ learning throughout the day,” said Chris Hoffman, foundation chairman. Hoffman is a Juniata County hog farmer and president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

With the support of community partners, the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation, and many others including the county 4-H Extension Educator, Audubon Society, conservation district members, CAPS uses agricultural concepts as a pathway to learning. Donated resources, educational presentations and hands-on experiences such as the Mobile Ag Ed Science Lab have helped provide the means for students, teachers, staff and families to immerse themselves in a world of agriculture, both during the school day and at home.

In order to accomplish this goal, CAPS has taken an aggressive approach to curriculum development and professional learning, offering staff an opportunity to participate in the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation’s Educator’s Ag Institute, both virtually and in person.

Angela Eyth, a fourth grade math teacher at Summit, was recognized as Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s 2020 Teacher of the Year. The award is presented annually to a teacher who has participated in the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture’s Educator’s Ag Institute.

In addition, building staff have been working to design lessons for their classrooms centered around National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes, utilizing resources and materials made available from NAITCO. These resources have been piloted at the Summit building and will be shared with the other six elementary buildings in the Butler Area School District to ensure all students are introduced to vital agricultural concepts. Grade-level teachers have worked together to develop ag kits for use within the established curriculum, allowing for an agricultural overlay for classroom instruction.

“CAPS is committed to cultivating lifelong learners by providing engaging lessons for students in all content areas. Students are excelling academically and achieving social emotional growth while also developing respect and appreciation for conservations, agriculture and the outdoor environment through the different agricultural components we have available on our campus.” said Chad Broman, the school’s principal.

They will be honored at the 2023 NAITCO Conference “Beyond the Beaches” taking place June 26-29 in Orlando, Florida.

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