Agriculture Appreciation Month Summed Up

March is my favorite month of the year.  I love to see everything come to life after it’s long winter rest.  I love seeing new life on the farm.  I also love seeing my family and other farmer friends prepare for the planting season.  To me, January is not for new beginnings, March is.

I also love the month of March because it’s Agriculture Appreciation Month and there is nothing I enjoy more than educating, promoting,  AGvocating, and appreciating farmers and all their hard work they do for me.

This year to celebrate those hands that feed us, my sister, mother, and I donated books about agriculture to all of the elementary school libraries in our home county of Morgan County.  We donated them in memory of my father, Tim Thomas, who passed away in a farming accident 6 years ago.  Our hope is for the librarians, teachers, and students to use these books to help educate their students and/or themselves about the importance of agriculture and farmers.  I enjoyed picking out the books and educator guides we donated.  It was so hard to only donate a couple! So, my sister, mom, and I decided we will continue to donate and grow the ag book bundles for each library in Morgan County in the years to come.

As a teacher I have many opportunities to teach my students about agriculture. Throughout “Ag Week” (March 14-18) I read many books about farmers, farming, and ag products to help my students understand what farmers do for them and how they get their food and other products they need to live.  After we read the books and watched MANY Peterson Farm Brothers videos we brainstormed and wrote down facts about farmers and farming on our planning sheets.  Then, my students took their notes to write sentences about farmers.  After their writing was complete I let them create their own farmers.  My students had so much fun doing this!

I did a lesson on seeds and plants with my kindergarten class.  We read books about what all seeds need to grow for them to turn into the plants we eat.  Then we made seed necklaces.  This was a fun way for them to learn about seeds and then take their seed home and plant it if they wish.

As a member of the Morgan County Young Farmers I helped some of our young farmers go into classrooms in our county to read agriculture books to students.  Our president, Patrick Maxwell, visited a school in Mooseville’s school district.  He read to his cousin’s students.  Our secretary, Maggie Voyles, visited South Elementary, a school in Martinsville’s school district.  Joe Cleveland, our treasurer visited Monrovia Elementary school and member, Wayne Vaught, visited Eminence Elementary.  Together our young farmer group reached every school district in our county to help educate students about ag.  I was so proud of our young farmers for doing this and I hope to plan more visits to schools in our county for our members.

At my school, Monrovia Elementary School, I planned an Agriculture Appreciation convocation.  All of the students in my school building came to the gym.  There I gave a quick little speech about famers and farming and why it is important we know what they do and to thank them every chance we get.  Then, my principal, Mrs. York, read How Did That Get in my LunchBox?  This book was one of the books we donated in honor of my Dad.  I also made a power point of the pages so our students could see the colorful book pages as Mrs. York read aloud.  When she finished reading I played the Peterson Farm Brothers’ video, I’m so Farmer.  The students and staff absolutely loved the songs and message!

This month I also cowrote an article with my sister, Katie, about women in agriculture that was published in our local newspaper.  I love writing with my sister.  Agriculture has connected us in such a unique way and we love sharing our writing on our blogs and in our hometown publication.

To sum it up, March provides opporutinties for me to share the story of agriculture.  Please say a prayer for farmers as the prepare for the busy planting season.  Pray for safe travel to and from the fields.  Pray for good weather to get the crop in the ground.  And always, always praise and be thankful for their hard work.  Do your part to appreciate agriculture and thank a farmer.

  

Ag Day 2015

Happy National Ag Day!  I am excited this year’s theme is “Agriculture: Sustaining Future Generations” because I get to work with our future generation almost every day.  I am excited for their future and hope many of them choose a path in agriculture.  I know my kindergarten, first, and second grade students are a long way from deciding what to do with their future, but it is my job to help lead them there.  It just so happens I am a little biased about the  opportunities ag has to offer them and will promote them as much as I can while they are in my classroom.

Below is a piece my sister, Katie and I wrote together.  To sum it up, we ask that you join with us today in celebrating the past, present, and most importantly future of agriculture.

Ag Day 2015: Celebrate Agriculture & Our Next Generation of Farmers

As we praise the warm weather and new beginnings that spring brings, we want to remind you that our farmers are starting to gather in the fields to produce this year’s crop and the food that comes to your table each and every day.

This year’s National Agriculture Day is March 18th and the theme is “Agriculture: Sustaining Future Generations”. This is a day to celebrate and support agriculture and the people that work in the agriculture industry even though we hope many of you celebrate more than one day of the year. These “people” are the farmers and ranchers that grow crops, raise, and care for livestock and tend to the land.

When we think of farmers, many times we think of overalls and a pitchfork. But in today’s agriculture world, more and more farmers are communicating via their smart phone from their tractors and using technologies that make our farms more efficient. The old pitchforks have turned into iPads. Even with the adoption of new technologies, we still face issues within agriculture. Many people outside the agriculture family don’t realize the issues we are facing today with aging farmers. Today, the average American farmer or rancher is 55 years old or older. Young people are not returning to the farm to work and take over the age-old tradition of farming. Instead they are looking elsewhere for more “attractive” jobs that have a typical 9-5 hour schedule, vacation days and less physically demanding work.

This is everyone’s problem because we need the next generation of farmers and ranchers to raise our crops and livestock to sustain our lifestyles as consumers. With the world population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, who will grow and raise our food? We need a next generation of farmers, ranchers and agriculturists to take on that task. Whether they come back to the farm or ranch to work, work for companies that create the technologies used on the farms, or help develop policies farmers and ranchers need to sustain their family farms, we need someone to take on the task. Also, we need people to teach the next generation about agriculture and where their food comes from. Without a doubt, there are many jobs that need to be filled in the agriculture industry.

Living in Indiana we are lucky to have various options for the next generation to be a part of this agriculture family. We have a strong agriculture sector ranging from a leading land grant university that provides educational and extension services to every citizen and a growing technology and innovation sector that includes companies like Dow AgroSciences and Elanco. We also have seed companies that provide more innovative agronomic tools for our farms and a livestock sector that provides food to people around the world. Our Indiana agriculture sector generates more than $25.4 billion towards Indiana’s gross domestic product and employees more than 475,000 Hoosiers, which attributes to roughly 20% of our workforce.

So how you can you help find the next generation of farmers, ranchers and members of the agriculture family? Encourage a young person to learn more about jobs in agriculture. Attend a forum or meeting that discusses ag issues and policies that affect our farming and our food. Visit local events, county and state fairs and farms to show your support of famers and ranchers. Educate yourself on local, state, national and world food and ag issues. Support your local FFA chapters, 4-H clubs, or young farmer groups. Let them know that they are needed and that you really need them too.

Agriculture is a part of our heritage and we hope it continues to be a strong part of our future in Indiana and in our country. As farm girls who wore overalls, loved showing animals and eating sweet corn from our own farm, we hope you take a moment to celebrate National Ag Day today and every day with us. Do your part in sustaining agriculture’s future generations which include you too.

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Celebrate National Ag Month With Us

This month is National Agriculture Month.  With spring right around the corner, March is a perfect month to plant seeds and share the story of agriculture with people.  My sister, Katie and I are passionate about working together to share and educate others about the work farmers and ranchers do for us.

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We loved visiting the sunflower fields with Dad. To this day they are my favorite flower.

Katherine, (that’s what I call her) recently started her own blog, Fancy in the Country where she shares stories about being a farmer’s wife and her life of all things fancy and country.  She also uses her blog as an outlet to share her passion of agriculture.  I started my blog for similar reasons, but the thing I love most about our blogs is they share stories about our father.  The first farmer we knew and loved.  That passion we use and share so immensely in our writing came from him.  He taught us to do things with passion or not at all.  He taught Katherine first and then me.  Now that he is no longer with us, I look to her for this guidance.  Boy she does a fantastic job filling his shoes!

My sister is the most passionate person I know.  I am so lucky and blessed that I get to do this thing called life with her.  I also love that within the past year we have combined our writing skills, thoughts, expertise, and ideas to produce some of the work we share on our blogs.  Looking back I think it’s ironic that the first piece we wrote together was the eulogy we read at our father’s funeral over 5 years ago.  I like to think of it as Dad’s way of making us work together and to discover we have a way with our words when they are written together.  I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us as we continue to work together in sharing our passion for agriculture.

To sum it up, I ask you to celebrate National Agriculture Month with us!  Mark your calendars for Ag Day on March 18th and stay tuned for more from the Thomas Sisters!

National Agriculture Day 2014

By Katie Thomas Glick & Sarah Thomas

When we sit down for a meal, it has become common practice to give thanks for those that have prepared the meal in front of us. However, do we go beyond those that have cooked the food to those that planted, nurtured and harvested the food? Do we thank our farmers enough for growing the corn, soybeans, wheat, vegetables and fruits along with caring for our animals?

As sisters that grew up on a farm, we have always appreciated where we came from and the soil under our feet. However, after losing our father, Tim Thomas, in a farming accident in 2009, we decided to dedicate our lives to telling the story of agriculture. Today is National Agriculture Day and we invite you to learn something new about agriculture today and to thank a farmer. If you don’t know a farmer, pray for them as they prepare for planting in the coming months or send a good thought their way when there is too much rain or not enough. You can also show your appreciation by remaining patient as your drive behind a tractor traveling from field to field.

Farmers never have a day off–from planting the crops to caring for the land, worrying about the weather, staying up late in the cold to watch a cow have her baby calf to preparing for a days work before the sun rises and harvesting after the sunset. And the worry of the weather, it’s constantly on their minds even in the winter on how much snow will fall and replenish the soil in the their fields. We heard something true recently, “mother nature never takes a day off” and neither do farmers.

Today is National Agriculture Appreciation Day but really, to us and many others, every day is agriculture appreciation day. Every day the farmer gets up to tend to his crops or livestock to make sure they are safe and prospering for us. We are consumers, almost everything we use in our day starts with the farmer. We want to help consumers understand the work of the farmer.

Below are a few fun facts and websites we wanted to share with you as you learn more about where your food comes from and the families that grow the crops and/or raise the animals. If you have questions, ask a farmer or do your part as a consumer and research the facts before assuming what you hear is true. We have the luxury of having an abundant, safe and affordable food supply in the United States and we need to remember to thank our American farmers for their hard work and dedication.

Indiana Agriculture Rankings (According to USDA NASS)
> Ranks 2nd in tomatoes for processing (Red Gold is located in Indiana)
> Ranks 2nd in spearmint
> Ranks 4th in soybeans
> Ranks 4th in total eggs produced
> Ranks 5th for number of pigs
> Ranks 5th in corn for grain

Fun Farm Facts:
> According to the 2007 USDA Agriculture Census, 95% of farms are family owned and operated.
> One acre of soybeans can produce 82,000 crayons.
> In the U.S., we spend less than 10% of our income on food versus 18-25% around the world, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
> There are 29 different cuts of beef that meet government guidelines.
> A cow will produce an average of nearly 7 gallons of milk each day. That’s more than 2,500 gallons each year.
> For every dollar spent on food in America, the farmer sees less than 12 cents.

National Ag Day, http://www.agday.org
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, http://www.fooddialogues.com/
Common Ground, http://www.findourcommonground.com
Sarah Sums It Up, http://www.sarahsumsitup.com

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Don’t Be Afraid to Talk

Last night I read an article about a woman who frequently flies and loves to meet new people. On one of her flights she was seated next to a 70 year old farmer. She expressed how much she enjoyed listening to his story and how she better understands where her food comes from because of their conversation.

If you know me personally or have read some of my other posts on Sarah Sums It Up, you know that I LOVE farmers. They are my favorite people to talk to. I have a family full of farmers and many of my closest friends are farmers. But I must confess that at times I am scared to talk to them. I am scared because it makes me sad that I don’t get to have conversations with my favorite farmer, my dad, anymore. It’s silly really. I will go awhile without talking to some of my family and farmer friends and when I finally do stop to catch up with them, I leave with a smile on my face. I walk away from our conversations thinking, why did I wait so long to stop and say hi and to see how they are doing? I walk away happy.

For those of you who have questions about where your food comes from or you just want to find our more about what farmers do, talk to a farmer. Today farmers are understanding that it’s important to have conversations with consumers. They know that the work they are doing is good and they are learning how to share that with the consumer. Social media has opened so many avenues for farmers and ranchers to share their stories with anyone who wants to listen. Here is a list of some of my favorite farmers and ranchers out there sharing their story:

The Peterson Brothers
Agriculture Proud
The Farmer’s Life
The Beef Jar

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National Agriculture Day is March 25th! Mark your calendars for this great opportunity to start a conversation with a farmer or rancher.

To sum it up, if you get the chance to talk to a farmer, do it.

Happy National Agriculture Day!

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Today I would like for you to join with me in thanking and celebrating all those who work in the agriculture industry. I have been posting a lot about ag here on Sarah Sums It Up because March is Agriculture Appreciation Month in Indiana. But today the ag world gets attention on a national stage. I am very passionate about agriculture and want to help those in the industry share their story. Today I ask you to talk to a farmer face to face or through social media outlets. Farmers love what they do and I am sure they would love to tell you about all their hard work.

Here are some of my blog posts about agriculture and farmers:

I love Farmers

The Farmer’s Verse

The Definition of a Hoosier

So God Made a Farmer

We Come and We Go

My sister, Katie and I created this newsletter to share today. Please click on the link below to view!

A message from Katie and Sarah

To see how others are celebrating and giving thanks today search and follow the Ag Day, Farms Matter or Agriculture Proud hashtags on social media sites #AgDay, #farmsmatter and #AgProud.

Please share and create your own ways of thanking farmers for all their hard work they do for you! But remember every day is Agriculture Day!! I love farmers