Learning “Straight From the Farm”
AREA — The mission of “Straight From the Farm” is to educate students and teachers about where their food, fuels, and fibers come from, and Program Director Melanie Bruck, uses a hands-on approach to do just that.
“When you are walking down the hallway of a school with 10 foot tall corn stalks or you have baby chicks in a tote, people take notice,” Bruck said.
The 501c3 non-profit organization was founded in 2023 at the request of over 40 teachers interested in continued agriculture literacy programming, Bruck said. “I get the best part of teaching.”
“I get to come in, work with the kids, and help the teachers however possible,” Bruck added.
“Straight from the Farm” might be a new organization, but Bruck has been providing agricultural education to students throughout the area for over 15 years, which has accounted for over 35,000 student interactions.
Recently, she set up a hands-on display highlighting STEM in agriculture at the AHSTW STEM Festival. Students were able to explore the bean seed life cycle, dissect soybeans soaked in water, and use a magnifying glass to locate the seed coat, cotyledon, and embryo in harvested mature soybean plants.
They also took home seed germination packets, and some tried edamame (soybean) snacks. “I don’t know who had a better time,” says Bruck, “me or the students.”
“We were really making a fantastic mess dissecting seeds, looking a nitrogen fixing nodules on the bean plants, tearing apart dried pods and filling the combine tank.” Bruck said, “Learning can messy, especially on the farm.”
Her lessons encourage discussion and problem-solving among students, and help develop skills. Bruck said she wants to help create educated consumers.
“The more you know, the better able you are to make decisions. Our whole lives are about choices.Where do you choose to eat, what do you choose to eat? What do you do for a job? If I can give these kids some of these tools, they can start making their own choices. That’s something very important.”
She said participating in classroom programming helps build teacher confidence in educating their students about rural communities.
“We want the lessons to align with what the teachers are already teaching.”
The organization offers lessons for teachers PreK-12 grade, as well as other youth programs such as libraries, Scout troops, and after school programs.
“It’s opening a door and allowing the kids to be a part of it,” she said.
“Doing things, hands on things, farm things. What kid doesn’t like farms?”
The organization accepts financial sponsors to help fund travel and program expenses. For more information on lessons or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Melanie Bruck, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.straightfr