BILLINGS – Agriculture is Montana’s number one industry and for years the Montana Ag in the Classroom program has been teaching our young people about the importance of our farmers and ranchers and what they do. But the program is taking on a new form, one that Montana Department of Agriculture Director Ben Thomas is excited about.
“So this program Montana Agriculture in the Classroom has traditionally been housed within the Department of Agriculture,” said Thomas. “And what we’ve noticed recently is we have so many partners who want to engage. So, what we did was form a new foundation called the Montana Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation and it’s a partnership between the Montana Department of Agriculture, Montana Farmers Union, the Montana Farm Bureau Federation and the Montana Office of Public Instruction.”
He said educating the next generation about the impact of agriculture on our state, nation and world is vitally important.
“It’s critical,” said Thomas. “I like to think we’re better off in Montana than in some other states where they may not be as close to agriculture as the typical person is in Montana. But it’s critical. The average age of farmers and ranchers is near 60 years old. There’s going to be a lot of turnover and a lot of opportunity and, as I mentioned before, a whole lot of challenges we’re facing in the future. We just want our population to be educated from a young age about all of these challenges and opportunities.”
In the coming months, a full-time coordinator will be hired to take the reins of the new Montana Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation.
For more information about Montana Ag in the Classroom, contact the Department of Agriculture in Helena or visit https://agr.mt.gov/Ag-in-the-Classroom .