Program to bring local history, agriculture significance to South Dakota classrooms A pilot program is underway bringing SD’s history and agriculture front and center to 4th grade classrooms across the state. Ground Works Midwest’s South Dakota Agriculture in the Classroom is introducing, SD Road Trip: Exploring South Dakota’s Agriculture and History. This is an interactive digital program currently in 46 fourth grade classrooms in 11 school districts throughout SD. Through the program, students take a digital tour of a city and learn the history and the agricultural significance of the area. The students also complete science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), lessons for each location. Each location also features writing exercises encouraging students to think more deeply about the regions they are visiting. Marsha Kucker, Ground Works Midwest/SD Ag in the Classroom educational specialist, has worked on 10 cities featured in the SD Road Trip digital experience. Twelve more cities and towns will be added by next fall for use during the full school year. “Creating this has been so much fun! Students are excited about the chance to learn more about their cities and towns. They show such a desire to know about where their food is coming from; this is a chance for them to begin understanding just how important agriculture is to every facet of our lives in SD,” she said. “South Dakota’s rich history is linked to the agriculture story, you cannot separate the two.” said Cindy Heidelberger Larson, Ground Works Midwest/SD Ag in the Classroom associate director. “It makes sense to develop a vehicle that can address both areas at once and bring agriculture into the classroom on a day-to-day basis. This way students learn about agriculture year-round and through a variety of methods. It’s really about students understanding their part in the agriculture story of SD and how that impacts them.” Sanford Health has now entered a three-year agreement with the program. It allows for the development of health and wellness information to be included from Sanford as the program continues to grow and take shape.
“Agriculture is South Dakota’s largest industry and vitally important to the economy of our state and region,” said Mike Begeman, Sanford Health’s vice president of public affairs and corporate administration. “We are proud to invest in the educational aspect of this effort and look forward to our relationship with SD Ag in the Classroom.” Following the pilot phase, plans are to open the program statewide to approximately 160 4th grade classrooms in South Dakota. With positive feedback, a similar curriculum for students in grades 5-8 could be created focusing on science lessons and careers in agriculture. For more information on South Dakota Ag in the Classroom or the South Dakota Road Trip program, please contact Tim Olsen, Ground Works Midwest/ SD Ag in the Classroom executive director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 507-227-9159.