The time has come to pack up the summer floaties, put away the campers and start packing the kids’ school backpacks, lunches and minds. Right this very minute you might be rolling your eyes at me for talking about back to school. But August is back-to-school month. It is also Kids Eat Right Month, Peach Month and Sandwich Month, along with Catfish Month and Get Acquainted with Kiwifruit Month. Plus, the first full week of August is Farmers’ Market Week. 

There is a national holiday for just about everything; however, agriculture often gets highlighted in great detail. “Why?” you might ask. Because agriculture touches every aspect of our lives, not just the food we eat.

Below is a short back-to-school list of “must haves” that are made possible because of agriculture. 

1. Pencils, paper and facial tissue – tree farms are essential in providing these staples.

2.  Art supplies – some crayons are made with soybean oil, paint brushes contain pig or cattle hair bristles, pig by-products are used to make chalk and glue, plus soy byproducts are found in many cleaning agents that we use to clean up the art room.

3.  New clothes – every kid enjoys picking out new clothes for the school year. We can thank cotton farmers for growing the cotton for jeans, many T-shirts and even your gym tops.

4.  Hand lotions, warm sweaters, hats, gloves and scarves – lanolin from sheep is found in hand lotions and their wool is spun into yarn.

5.  Renewable fuels – ethanol from corn fuels up teachers’ cars while soy biodiesel often powers school buses. 

Education is important to everyone’s future. Education makes you think, grow, explore and imagine. Agricultural education is a passion I enjoy sharing with children and organizations throughout the year. When I go into classrooms, I read an accurate ag book to the students (which they get to keep in their school library afterwards), followed by a short lesson plan and related activity.
“Right This Very Minute: A Table-to-Farm Book About Food and Farming” by Lisl H. Detlefsen is a super easy read kids can follow along with. This summer, I gave a guided farm tour to a group of moms and their young children who were eager to learn and see for themselves where their food comes from. The group enjoyed a wagon ride (pulled by one of our John Deere tractors), as well as up-close interaction with the animals on our original 1906 farm homestead.

They finished the day on our lawn with a light snack and me reading “Right This Very Minute.” Educating doesn’t have to be sitting in a classroom waiting for the time to go by. It can be so much more!


Heather Lang, a farmer and Farm Bureau member in North Dakota, serves on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Promotion & Education Committee. This column originally appeared on North Dakota Farm Bureau’s On Your Table blog.