NAITCO Newsletter
Spring 2021
Important Dates
June 1 - Early registration deadline for National Conference.
June 29-July 1 - 2021 NAITC Conference, Des Moines, Iowa
Rainmaker Sponsors
Upgraded 2021 Conference Sponsor/Exhibitor
2445 Organics
New 2021 Conference Sponsors/Exhibitors
Cabot Creamery
Dairy Excellence Foundation
Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area
Soybean Science Challenge
World Food Prize Hall of Laureates
Our Sponsors
U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Nutrien, Ltd.
CHS Foundation
Native American Agriculture Fund
Iowa Farm Bureau
National Pork Board
Barn Raiser
Smithfield Foods
American Egg Board
Ardent Mills
Corteva Agriscience
Del Monte Foods
Farm Credit
Pivot Bio
2445 Organics
American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture
The BRANDT Foundation
Dairy Farmers of America
Ford Motor Co.
Iowa Corn Promotion Board
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Protect the Harvest
Vermeer Corporation
Ranch Hands
American Agri-Women
Cabot Creamery Coop
CropLife America
Dairy Excellence Foundation
Equipment Dealers Association
Golf Course Superintendents Association
Growmark Foundation
Iowa Turkey Federation
National Grange
Nutrients for Life Foundation
Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area
Virtual Farm Trips
World Food Prize Hall of Laureates
Support NAITCO
You can support agricultural literacy in Pre-K-12 classrooms by designating NAITCO as your charity when you shop Amazon. AmazonSmile allows you to select a non-profit to receive 0.5 percent of select purchases. Check out AmazonSmile to support NAITCO.
NAITCO now offers two opportunities to join the organization and show your support of agricultural literacy in Pre-K-12 classrooms. For $25, teachers, informal educators and volunteers can join. For $10, students can join. Learn more and join NAITCO today!
NAITCO Contact Information
Lisa Gaskalla
Executive Director
Phone: (352) 745-0246
Randy Bernhardt
Development Director
Phone: (505) 227-4090
Tessa Matuszak
Program Manager
Phone: (707) 694-0321
Get Ready for "Fields of Dreams" 
Participate In-Person or Virtually 
Anton Treuer
We are two months away from the 2021 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference "Fields of Dreams" scheduled for June 28-July 1 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. The "hybrid" conference offers an in-person option for people who can travel and a live streaming/Zoom option for people who can not travel.
Keynote speakers include Dr. Anton Treuer, author and professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University in Minnesota, who will discuss transformative teaching and how to infuse equity tools in classroom instruction; and Nicole Jolly, producer of True Food TV, who will talk about how storytelling involving food and farmers "connects, illuminates and inspires" teachers and students.
Traveling workshops will visit the Dr. Norman Borlaug World Food Prize Hall of Laureates and the Iowa Arboretum, among other stops. Onsite workshops range from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade and cover topics such as harvesting wind energy, embryology and the language arts, science and math involved in school gardening, to name a few.
Important conference information is as follows: 
In-Person Registration -
  • Before June 1, 2021 - $435
  • June 2-June 14, 2021 - $485
  • June 15, 2021-Onsite - $535
        Virtual Conference Registration -
  • Until June 28, 2021 - $50
Lodging - Make your lodging arrangements at conference hotel Hilton Des Moines Downtown, which is adjacent to the Iowa Events Center.  You will receive the conference rate of $164 plus taxes and fees. Book your room before June 3, 2021. You can cancel your room up to 48 hours before arrival without penalty.
NAITC Conference FAQs - Do you have other travel-related questions about attending the NAITC conference? Please watch the recording of our Facebook Live Q&A
COVID-19 Guidance - Social distancing measures, including mask wearing, will be implemented to make sure everyone remains safe at the national conference. Learn more about NAITC's plan to ensure the wellbeing of attendees by viewing our Attendee Wellness Guide.
BINGO for NAITCO - Support NAITCO, the national non-profit that organizes the national conference, by playing BINGO at the banquet the evening of Wednesday June 30. Only in-person attendees can participate in BINGO, and can purchase a package of 10 cards for $20 when registering online or at the conference. You have a chance to win fabulous prizes donated by AITC state and territory programs from around the country.
Agenda - Check out the agenda for the in-person experience and the virtual experience on the conference website. 
Questions - Contact NAITC by emailing or
Nat'l Teacher Award Recipients Announced
Eight Teachers Selected to Receive Honor
Article ImageEight teachers in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade from around the country have been selected to receive the 2021 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award. The award, sponsored by USDA/NIFA and Farm Credit, recognizes teachers who consistently and innovatively use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies and other subject areas. They will be honored at the awards luncheon Wednesday June 30 at the national conference in Des Moines, IA. This year's national teacher award recipients are:
  • Christine Toro-Klistoff, a K-8th grade teacher from CA
  • Mary Lynn Hess, a STEM teacher from FL
  • Karen Garland, a K-5th grade science teacher from GA
  • Kelly Gates, a 5th grade teacher from KY
  • Tonya Claybrook, a 4th and 5th grade teacher from MO
  • Martha McLeod, a 3rd-5th grade outdoor science lab teacher from TX
  • Patricia Eshelman, a high school living enviroment teacher from NY
  • Tammy Will, a 8th-12th grade teacher from OK
To learn more about these teachers and their classroom agricultural literacy approaches, please visit 2021 National Teacher Award Recipients.
Kansas Educator Wins 2021 PAL Award
Selected for Passion for Agricultural Literacy
Serita Blankenship, a Kansas Farm Bureau
educator, has been selected to receive the 2021 Partnership in Agricultural Literacy (PAL) Award, formerly known as the Agricultural Advocate Award.
She won the award for her 20-plus-year commitment to educating Kansas students at the elementary and secondary level about the importance of agriculture with programs like “Be Ag Wise” and the rollout of the Kailey’s Agriculture Adventure book series and related lesson plans.
The “Be Ag Wise” program lasted more than a decade, was one of the largest, most successful projects Blankenship assisted in implementing, was a joint effort between Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (KFAC) and KFB and provided workshops in four locations across the state each year where 1,000 educators learned agriculture theme-related lessons in a train-the-trainer format. The National Grange Foundation sponsors the award each year. Blankenship will be honored at the awards breakfast Thursday July 1 at the national conference in Des Moines, Iowa. To learn more about Blankenship and her Pre-K-12 agricultural literacy efforts, please visit 2021 PAL Award Recipient.
PreK-12 Teachers to Receive Scholarships 
CHS Foundation Program Funds Registration
Article ImageTeachers from around the country will receive 2021 CHS Foundation Scholarships to attend the NAITC national conference in late June in Des Moines, IA. The scholarship covers early registration to the conference of $435. An announcement of this year's scholarship recipients will be made soon. Also, the CHS Foundation will allow last year's scholarship recipients to use their scholarships to attend this year's national conference. CHS Foundation Scholarship recipients for 2020 and 2021 will be recognized at the awards breakfast Wednesday June 30 at the national conference in Des Moines, IA.
NAAF Scholarships To Be Announced
Scholarship Covers Travel to Conference
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The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF), a new NAITC and national conference sponsor, is providing scholarships to help Native American Pre-K-12 teachers attend the national  conference in Des Moines in late June. An announcement of the scholarship recipients will be made soon. Teachers selected to receive these scholarships will be recognized at the awards breakfast Wednesday June 30 at the NAITC national conference in Des Moines, IA. In addition, NAAF's support covers national conference keynote speaker Dr. Anton Treuer's address at the opening breakfast Tuesday June 29. Dr. Treuer, a professor at Ojibwe at Bemidji State University in Minnesota, will discuss "Transformative Teaching: How to Infuse Equity Tools in Your Classroom Delivery" during his keynote address and at a workshop immediately following breakfast.
New Grant from USDA/NIFA
Teacher Workshops at Land Grants, ARS Stations
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NAITCO has received a new grant from USDA/NIFA that will fund eight teacher workshops at land grant universities or USDA Agricultural Research Stations (ARS) across the country over the next two years. Each workshop will allow 25 science teachers, curriculum coordinators and teacher educators to immerse themselves in agriculture research projects at these institutions. Educators who participate in these workshops will receive funds to cover their travel. The first two workshops have been scheduled at Iowa State University in Ames, IA Aug. 2-3 and Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS Aug. 3-5. The Iowa workshop will focus on water quality projects, and the Kansas workshop will focus on wheat projects. The other two workshops will be held at the University of Maryland and Texas A&M University and the USDA/ARS Southern Plains Agricultural Research Service located there. But the dates and details of these two workshops are still being worked out. Interested in attending one of these workshops? Email for more information.
Journey 2050 Program Updates
Check Journey Facebook Page for Info
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Nutrien, Ltd., the creator of the educational gaming platform Journey 2050, has exciting new program, game, and website updates in the works! Look for announcements to come on the Journey 2050 Facebook page and highlighted on the website.  
Help Nutrien reach its goal of 1 million users of Farmers 2050. This real-life farm game lets players plant, cultivate, and harvest crops. Players craft, trade and sell goods, learning all aspects of farming. Start or join a team to complete in Global Events highlighting sustainability across the globe! Please email NAITCO Program Manager and Journey 2050/Farmers 2050 coordinator Tessa Matuszak at with any questions.
Agriculture in the Classroom Discussion
Facebook Page for AITC Conversations
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NAITCO has a Facebook page for teachers and other educators to share AITC-related questions and conversations. NAITCO leadership realized that teachers and educators wanted a way to communicate with each other about AITC information and best practices. It can be used as a place of discussion for experienced and beginning educators alike. To join, please visit Agriculture in the Classroom Discussion Group and invite teachers and educators in your states to join as well.
How to Grow a Monster about Zucchini
Makers Make it Work Series Has Ties to Ag
Article Image
Check out the series Makers Make it Work by Kane Press (Boyds Mills and Kane Press) for some great easy-to-read, problem-solving books that include an easy-to-implement activity.
One story in the series, called How to Grow a Monster, is about how Kara and Gabe help their mom grow zucchini. From trying to stop the zucchini from growing, to finding new ways to enjoy the massive green vegetable, this book will be right at home as a read-aloud or as an early emergent reader for your grades K-3 students. When purchasing the book How to Grow a Monster through Amazon make sure to select NAITCO as your designated AmazonSmile charity by clicking on the button in the left column. This book review is brought to you by Kevin Daugherty, director of the Illinois Center for Agricultural Engagement.
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