A new, statewide organization was launched recently aimed at helping Iowans understand more about how and where their food and fuel is produced. The Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF), with a primary focus on youth, is a collaboration of business, education and the agriculture industry to promote agriculture literacy and its global significance in Iowa schools.

“It is an exciting time to be involved in agriculture right now,” said IALF Chairwoman Joyce Hoppes with the Iowa Pork Producers Association.  “Students have the chance to pursue exciting careers in agriculture and Iowa is at the heart of agriculture innovation, but that starts with knowing what opportunities are available.  It is this next generation that is going to be challenged with feeding the world’s growing population and finding new energy sources through raw agriculture assets. It’s important to have a core understanding of those opportunities and the issues that will set them up for future success.”

IALF will serve as a centralized resource to help increase the knowledge and awareness of today’s agriculture and its importance to students.

“The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation has been amplifying agriculture literacy efforts for many years and this new not-for-profit will continue to expand on those efforts,” said IALF Executive Director Will Fett.  “Some regions in Iowa have successful, long-standing Ag in the Classroom and other agriculture education programs in place.  IALF will support those existing programs and help ensure that all Iowa communities have access to high quality educational programs that apply STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts through agriculture.  IALF will take some of those best practices from existing agriculture education programs, incorporate business needs related to STEM and present a unified approach with benchmarks from a statewide perspective.” 

IALF will provide teacher and volunteer training workshops, educational materials aligned with the Iowa Core and STEM.  Workshops for teachers and students will be available throughout the school year and into the summer months.  Upcoming workshop information will be available on the website IowaAgLiteracy.org.

“Ensuring our growing global population has enough safe, affordable and nutritious food will require students to understand all aspects of agriculture and how they can become involved, now and in the future,” said Amanda Rinehart, IALF board member from DuPont Pioneer.  “IALF was launched to help provide access to agriculture curriculum across the state.”

IALF is governed by a 10 person board including the following founders; the Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Corn Growers, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, and the Silos and Smokestacks Foundation. Additional board members include the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, DuPont Pioneer, GROWMARK, the Iowa Beef Industry Council, and a representative from an education advisory council.