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Idaho Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education Committee is here for you

By Paige Nelson

For Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

FORT HALL – Idaho Farm Bureau Federation’s Promotion and Education Committee is an opportunity to get together and promote and educate people about agriculture, according to Alan Clark, the committee’s state chair.

The P&E program also helps farmers and ranchers become better agriculture advocates and encourages more influential interactions with consumers, adds Clark, a farmer and rancher from Jefferson County. 

Overall, P&E’s mission is help agriculture have a better perception among consumers.

Clark and other members of the state P&E committee presented P&E tips during IFBF’s annual convention, which was held Nov. 30 – Dec. 2 in Fort Hall.

MAC Trailer

Britany and Curt Stegelmeier, who represent District 2 on the committee, offered tips for using IFBF’s Moving Agriculture to the Classroom trailer.

“The thing I love about the MAC trailer is there’s so many hands-on visual items that anyone can use it. Kids love it. Adults love it. It’s very interactive,” Britany said.

New this year to the MAC trailer is the Big Book of Beef. This brand-new module joins an existing library of giant-sized books housed in the trailer.

The exquisite size of the books generates both amazement and interest from elementary-age children; even adults love the huge graphics presented in the Big Book of Dairy, Big Book of Wheat and Big Book of Water modules.

The books are made to be easily used by anyone, explained Britany Stegelmeier, citing a recent experience in which she called upon her local high school’s FFA chapter to help her out at an ag day.

First, she set up the ag day with an elementary school, then she contacted the FFA advisor. She asked for two FFA students per module. She had previously chosen to present on the three modules she thought best represented the agriculture commodities within her county.

A week before the ag day, Britany made copies of each module’s lesson plan (found at Idaho Farm Bureau Federation website under Moving Agriculture to the Classroom) and gave them to the high school students to study.

“The FFA kids came prepared. They knew what they were doing because they’d already seen it,” she said.

Britany encouraged her audience to not hesitate to host ag days in schools. Whether you have access to the MAC trailer or not, all of these modules and their corresponding lesson plans are on the IFBF website, she said.

To schedule the MAC trailer, contact your district’s regional manager.

Commodity case

Linda Rider, representing District 5, presented tips for rounding out an educational presentation. Through years of experience talking to people about agriculture, Rider came up with the idea to create her very own “commodity case” — a suitcase filled with items representing a certain commodity module. For her part, Rider displayed her “wheat-case.”

In her travel case she keeps several varieties of wheat, wheat straw, wheat products, a miniature wheat combine and some printed material.

“It’s always put together. I just bring my suitcase, and when I get there, I am ready to set up,” said Rider.

Britany explained one of the committee’s ideas for these commodity cases is to keep them in each county’s closet. Give everyone access to them so they can be used more frequently. Additionally, said Britany, make them specific to the commodities raised in your area.

“Every county can do this,” she said.

Library books

Stacy Burmester, representing District 1, spoke about her county’s efforts to supply local school libraries with ag books. Not just books about agriculture topics, but books that inform their readers with accurate agriculture facts and information, she said.

The American Farm Bureau Foundation is a great source for picture books for younger children. The foundation publishes a new book on an agriculture topic each year and makes them available beginning at American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention.

The 2022 Book of the Year and the 15th book published by the Foundation is How to Grow a Monster, written by Kiki Thorpe. The fully-illustrated, page-turner explores gardening and can be purchased on Amazon in both library binding and paperback.

Burmester said an even cheaper way of getting several books is to ask those attending the AFBF convention to pick up a few books during their stay and bring them home in their suitcases.

A great option for older kids, said Burmester, is Farm Bureau’s Ag Mag. It explores more in-depth agriculture topics and offers lesson plans for teachers, as well as captivating articles and photos. Ag Mags can be purchased on the AFBF website.

In conclusion, Burmester said, “The biggest thing we want to promote is accurate ag.”

Social media

Amy Mitchell, District 3, encouraged her audience to get connected with P&E on social media. The P&E committee maintains both a Facebook and Instagram page. Search “Idaho Farm Bureau Promotion and Education” to follow either or both accounts.

According to Mitchell, the committee will be focusing on six topics throughout 2022. Additionally, they will be highlighting national food days such as national hamburger day, national pizza day and days like taco Tuesday.

Mitchell ended her segment by imploring those supportive of agriculture to get active on social media.

“The more that we like, share and comment (on posts) the more it gets out to everyone else to help others gain a little knowledge,” she said.

Speech contest

Rider wrapped up the committee’s presentation speaking about the P&E-sponsored speech contest for high school students. To participate, students pick any subject that is agricultural in nature and prepare a 6-8-minute speech to be delivered in front of judges.

The committee has intentionally timed their district and state speech contests to happen before the FFA speech contests, so students can use the Farm Bureau contest in preparation.

Contest rules, judging and scoring information for those interested can be found on the IFBF website under Promotion & Education Projects.

Here for you

Above all else, committee members emphasized their commitment to Idaho Farm Bureau members.

“Our committee is really a resource to you,” said Rider.

Burmester added, “If you guys need help to get things going; if you need help getting a county P&E going; if you need help to get into your schools or need to know how to talk to legislators, reach out to us.”

The newest members of the Idaho P&E committee are Bryce and Karly Durrant, representing District 4. Staff support is provided by Justin Patten.

Clark encourages those interested in Idaho Farm Bureau Federation’s P&E program to check out the resources his committee has compiled online. Start with a visit to the IFBF website:

In the top right you’ll find the P&E tab. After clicking the P&E tab, scroll down to find the Resources section. This is a handy place to find information about the MAC Trailer, Idaho Agriculture in the Classroom, American Farm Bureau P&E resources, as well as resources from Michigan Farm Bureau P&E, the oldest P&E program in Farm Bureau.

“Michigan has a lot of step-by-step activities you can do,” Clark said. “You can put in your budget and how much time you want to spend, and it will spit out activities. It’s a pretty neat resource from them.”

Back on the Idaho P&E page in the Projects section, you can find past Idaho county Farm Bureau projects, and step-by-step activities, all compiled and standardized by the committee.

From the website, visitors can also connect to the P&E’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.