Agriculture Literacy Week promotes dairy farming

Every year in the month of March, elementary schools and libraries across New York State are invited to participate in a fun and exciting project called Agriculture Literacy Week.  Through New York Agriculture in the Classroom, a partnership between NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, NYS Education Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell University, and the NY Farm Bureau, elementary school children learn about the importance of agriculture in our daily lives and the significance of farming and farmworkers across all genre of agribusinesses.

Throughout the 36 years of this project, children have learned about dairy animals, fiber farms, apple orchards, farm to table restaurants and food systems, farmers markets and growing fresh produce, gardening, maple syrup harvesting, raising chickens, planting  trees, and so much more.

Each year a new book and agriculture topic is featured which is paired with a related hands-on activity.  This year, the book Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish (Tales of the Dairy Godmother), written by Viola Butler and art by Ward Jenkins, connects the delicious treat to the work farmers are doing every day to grow, raise and produce our food. This book will take students on an explorative journey learn about dairy and to trace the food on their plate back to its source- the farmer. Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish (Tales of the Dairy Godmother) highlights the dairy industry with vivid illustrations and a humorous storyline. Students will understand the importance of agriculture as an economic driver in communities across New York and develop an awareness for where their food comes from and its journey.

Two of our local Future Farmer of America chapters from regional schools buddied with the younger grades in their schools to read and participate in making Ice Cream in a Bag with pre-made kits.  Hannah Bush, Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor with Avoca Central School, and Aaron Dennis, Agriculture and Technology teacher and FFA Advisor with Jasper Troupsburg Central School District, brought together the upper and lower grades for a multi-dimensional approach to agriculture literacy and appreciation.  Along with this on-site engagement, libraries across the county offered in-person readings when appropriate and virtual readings through “story time” and other literacy engagement program opportunities.

“It is so important for our children and community to understand the importance of agriculture in our county.  Agriculture Literacy Week is a fun way to help people realize how much we rely on our local farmers,” says Tess McKinley, CCE Steuben Executive Director.

With over 4,000 dairy farms and ranking fourth nationally as the largest producer of milk, dairy is vital to New York State. New York State is also the largest producer of yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream in the nation. The dairy community in New York includes both large dairy operations and small, family run farms. It also boasts processing facilities of various types and sizes, from major global processing companies to small artisanal dairy product makers. We are excited to feature a book that displays the unique markets and diversity that encompasses many aspects of New York’s dairy industry while also focusing on processing and how consumers contribute to agriculture.

Through the generous donation of dairy farmers of New York State, we were able to expand our agriculture literacy education and order more books and activity kits than usual this year to offer to more children through after-school programs and 4H programming.  We thank them for their support, and we thank our volunteers, CCE staff members, and the many organizations, 4H clubs, and members of the public who sponsored books for the kids of Steuben County.  Thank you all for your dedication in continuing agriculture education for the youth of Steuben County and New York State.

CCE Steuben is still accepting donations for this year’s book to be distributed around the county at Each book is $12. For more information on Ag Literacy Week visit