Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica Ziehm, 518-457-3136

March 16, 2012

Commissioner to Join Industry for Ag Literacy Week

50,000 2nd Graders across New York to Learn about Agriculture, March 18-24

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine will join hundreds of volunteers to promote agricultural literacy across New York State.  Now in its seventh year, Agricultural Literacy Week, scheduled for March 18-24 this year, has helped to bring agriculturally themed books and resources into thousands of classrooms and libraries throughout New York State.

“If we want educated and informed consumers that understand how and where their food is grown, we need to invest time today,” the Commissioner said.  “Agriculture Literacy Day is the perfect opportunity to do just that, and is effective in bringing together the agricultural industry to share our time and knowledge with our future consumers.  By meeting students in their classrooms to read to them, share our experiences and answer their questions, we are helping increase the interest, awareness and understanding of agriculture in New York State.”

To kick Agriculture Literacy Week off, the Commissioner will read to four second grade classes at the Guardino Elementary School in Clayton (Jefferson County) today, March 16, 2012 at 9:30 am.  This year, roughly 50,000 second grade students will be read to in nearly every county in the State.  Over the course of the week, volunteers will visit roughly 2,200 class rooms, reading and talking to students about agriculture in New York State.  After reading, the book will be donated to the school library with a bookplate recognizing the donor and New York Ag Literacy Day. Lesson plans and activities will also be provided to teachers.  Last year, 1,382 books were donated and read to more than 36,000 students.

The featured book this year is “Seed Soil Sun Earth’s Recipe for Food” by Cris Peterson.  The book provides concise information and beautiful photographs to document the seemingly miraculous process by which air and water combine with seed, soil, and sun to create nearly all the food we eat.  The author uses the corn plant as an example, taking readers through the story of germination and growth of a tiny corn seed into a giant plant that reaches high into the air, as well extends deep into the ground.

New York Ag in the Classroom’s Interim Coordinator, Angela McGregor Hedstrom, said, “We are thrilled that Agricultural Literacy Week will be in 60 New York counties this year with an estimated reach of over 50,000 students.  That’s nearly 15,000 more students than 2011!  County coordinators, teachers, and volunteer readers are very excited about exploring agriculture and food systems through seeds, which are a natural fit to meet science and other learning standards.”

Agriculture Literacy Day in New York is sponsored and coordinated by New York Ag in the Classroom, which is a partnership of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension, New York Farm Bureau, and the New York State Education Department.  Ag in the Classroom works with cooperative extension educators, teachers, Farm Bureau members, and others throughout the State to foster an awareness, understanding and appreciation of agriculture and the total food and fiber system.

New York agriculture encompasses nearly 25 percent of the State’s landscape and generated $4.4 billion for our economy last year. Currently, New York State has 7 million acres of farmland with more than 36,000 farms.

For more information on the annual New York Agriculture Literacy Day or New York Ag in the Classroom, contact its Interim Coordinator, Angela McGregor Hedstrom at 607-255-9253 or, or visit the Ag in the Classroom website.

2012 Press Releases