Did you know the average Maui farmer is over 60 years old? Since 2006 concerns about the future of local agriculture have prompted the Maui County Farm Bureau and other local organizations to bring agriculture to our schools. MCFB Executive Director Warren K/ Watanabe says, “hands-on” agricultural education benefits young people and the larger community”.
During MCFB’s August 2012 – February 2013, 15 elementary schools representing more than 1,500 Maui 2nd graders participated its Agriculture in the Classroom in-class program. About a 1,000 of them enjoyed an educational field trip held March 7 & 8 at the Maui Tropical Plantation.
The field trip allows students, teachers and chaperones to meet Maui farmers and ag educators. This year’s field trip included “Canoe Crops” with the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources; “Daily Nutrition” with Maui Electric Company; “Seed to Seed” by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company; “Parts of a Plant” with Monsanto Hawaiʻi; “Planting a Lavender Sprig” with Aliʻi Kula Lavender; “Amazing Coconuts” with Coconut Wilie, and “Value-added Agriculture” with SoMoor. Maui Tropical Plantation provided a tram tour.
For MCFB, its youth education program in grade school focuses on building awareness of where food comes from. In high school and college the emphasis shifts to career opportunities including plant and animal science, agricultural economics, human nutrition, and environmental stewardship.
In 2006 Maui County Farm Bureau launched Agriculture in the Classroom and it has been growing ever since. Designed as an eight-month series of in-class farmer presentations titled “Where Would We Be Without Seeds”, students learn about the life cycle of plants. AIC was developed for second-graders of any public, private, or charter school willing to participate. AIC will start again in August 2013 – March 2014.