Ag In The Classroom Essay Contest

State Reports

State Summary 2016 — Georgia

State Contact

Ms. Donna Rocker
Georgia Farm Bureau Federation
P.O. Box 7068
Macon, GA 31209-7068
P: 478.474.0679

Classroom Resources

2017 Art Contest Calendar (which highlighted careers in agriculture)- which is now also on the GFB Foundation for Agriculture website

Lesson Plan and Teacher Resource Booklets for teachers (2 revised)

Major Program Accomplishments or Outputs

In 2016 we held 5 1-day Educator Workshops & Farm Experience sponsored and coordinated through the county Farm Bureaus. We reached 110 educators from 35 schools. Our annual Educational Leadership Conference, sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Committee, places primary emphasis on agricultural literacy. More than 225 volunteers and teachers attending the one day event. One of the four concurrent workshops was presented by the Lauren Goble, the 2015 Georgia Ag in the Classroom Educator of the Year who was also a national Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture award winner in 2016. Members of the Women’s Leadership Committee conducted a workshop using activities they learned at the National AITC Conference. Dr. Wayne Parrot, expert in the field of biotechnology from The University of Georgia, conducted a workshop on biotechnology activities for the classroom. Ag literacy is the primary focus of the Women’s Leadership Committee. In 2016, they connected their state convention booth with activities related to poultry. They also invited up to 20 county Farm Bureaus to bring ag literacy displays as part of the Celebrating Ag Literacy event at the state convention. This was a great way for volunteers to see what activities are going on and talk to the counties about how to do them. County Farm Bureaus are our greatest asset for agricultural literacy as they visit classrooms using the materials we introduce at the Leadership Conference, provide through special promotions, and from attending the National Ag in the Classroom Conference. They read books, build school gardens, do activities with the children, and provide resources for teachers. They conduct the high school art contest and the middle essay contest. In the fall, the GFB Foundation for Agriculture was awarded a USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant. The grant will include an AgMag for students, a week-long teacher tour and lesson development by a team of teachers, and an educator kit.

Major Program Impacts or Outcomes

The largest impact comes from our county Farm Bureaus who spend countless people-hours doing classroom presentations, conducting Farm Days at Schools and on farms, providing educational materials, and assisting with school projects. With 159 counties, GFB volunteers reach about 40,000 students each year. County Farm Bureaus are also committed to sending key teachers to the National Ag in the Classroom Conference. In 2016, we had 31 people from Georgia attend the conference. They all came back ready to begin or expand their ag literacy programs. Marla Garnto, our 2016 Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year, attended one of the educator workshops that included a tour of Perdue Farms where they process more than 2 million birds per week. She returned to her STEM team of teachers and, with her 5th grade students, developed a project in partnership with Perdue Farms. This has become a premier example of how STEM connects with local agricultural businesses. The one-day Educator Workshop/Farm Experience reached 110 teachers in 2016. These teachers have the potential to reach more than 3,500 students each year. Because the workshops are sponsored by the county Farm Bureau, it has also developed or enhanced the school/Farm Bureau partnership resulting in visits to the classroom and assistance with projects such as school gardens. The “Thank A Farmer” project was developed to enhance Farm City Week programs. It was a great first time success with 26 county Farm Bureaus getting farmers to visit classrooms reaching more than 3,000 students. This is Georgia’s first project that focuses on elementary school. The topic for the Middle School Essay Contest was: In a persuasive essay, show how modern agriculture has adopted the use of technology to sustain and improve resources while increasing food supplies. 65 teachers and 991 students participated in the project.


Donna Hellwig Rocker has been with Georgia Farm Bureau since 1986, primarily coordinating the Georgia Agriculture in the Classroom program.

In 1999, the GFB Women's Leadership Committee was added to her responsibilities. The Women's Leadership Committee has places all of their focus on youth education and agricultural literacy. Donna's responsibilities responsibilities include materials development and teacher training.

Donna also serves on the Farm to School Alliance and Georgia Centennial Farm Committee.

She received an associate's degree from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and a B.A. in Psychology from Georgia College & State University. She received her Masters in Adult Education from The University of Georgia in 2012.

She was part of the team to develop the AITC Consortium and has served as a regional representative and secretary for that organization.


The 2017 Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom Book of the Year and annual essay contest comes from the heart and soul of cranberry country. Written by Wisconsin native Lisl H. Detlefsen, Time for Cranberries educates students about the state’s cranberry industry by highlighting the process, technology and traditions involved.

“It is quite an honor to have Time for Cranberries chosen to be Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom’s Book of the Year,” said Detlefsen. “Ag in the Classroom does an excellent job educating students about agriculture, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share the story of cranberry farming with students in my home state.”

This year’s essay contest topic, “Tell us about cranberry production in Wisconsin during one of the four seasons” is linked with the book. Accompanying lessons aligned to state standards and various Wisconsin educational resources are available within an Educator’s Guide for teachers, students and volunteers to use in promoting and preparing essays.

Essay submissions must be 100 to 300 words in length and will be judged on content, grammar, spelling and neatness. Participating students and schools need to submit essays by April 1 to their county Farm Bureau essay coordinator. A list of county essay coordinators, all contest rules, lesson plans and sample classroom activities are located at

A state winner will be selected from nine district winners in May by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Promotion and Education Committee. Each district winner will receive a classroom presentation in May for their homeroom or class. This year, Lisl H. Detlefsen, author of Time for Cranberries will present to the winning essay writer’s classroom.

“This book is a real passion project for me because it was inspired by my family’s life on our cranberry marsh,” Detlefsen said. “Cranberry harvest is such an interesting and beautiful process, and the book is a virtual field trip for readers who might not have the chance to see it in person.”

The essay contest is sponsored by Insight FS, We Energies and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation. Last year, more than 3,000 students participated in the contest.

The hardcover books come with an activity and lesson plan packet that tea
chers, students and home school parents can use to enhance the reading experience. Book order forms are found at under ‘Order Forms’.

Questions can be directed to


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