Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon issued a proclamation declaring the week of February 19-24, 2024 as “Wyoming Agricultural Literacy Week.” While we recognize the value of reading and agriculture during this designated week it goes without saying that each of these are vital every day of the year.

Watch remarks from Weston County Rancher Tucker Hamilton and Laramie County Farmer Todd Fornstrom

Educating Wyoming elementary school children about agriculture and the role Wyoming farmers and ranchers play in keeping Wyoming strong is critical. The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) Young Farmer and Rancher (YF&R) Committee started the “Ag Books for Kids” project in 2005 with a goal of building the collection of accurate agriculture reading materials in our state’s elementary schools.   The first “Wyoming Agricultural Literacy Week” Governor’s proclamation was issued in 2008.

The proclamation reads in part: “Wyoming is rich in agricultural history, and farming and ranching are an important part of Wyoming’s economy, contributing nearly two billion dollars annually; and many aspects of our daily lives, including the food we eat, clothes we wear, and medicine we depend on, are made possible because of agriculture; and literacy is a top priority for school children and non-fiction books are an important tool in teaching children about the world around them.” 

The grassroots strength of the Farm Bureau Federation enables the “Ag Books for Kids” project to reach across the great state of Wyoming. This year the county Farm Bureau Federations purchased 710 books to donate to Wyoming elementary schools. 

“Accurate teaching materials are the foundation of education,” said WyFB President Todd Fornstrom. “Without these books our youth may have an inaccurate understanding of where our food comes from and how it is produced.”

Weston County Rancher Tucker Hamilton is the WyFB Young Farmer & Rancher Committee State Chair. Hamilton sees great value in educating Wyoming’s youth about agriculture through this program.  

“Students rarely learn about where their food comes from,” Hamilton said. “The Ag Books for Kids program is an excellent opportunity to fix this by directly educating and providing resources for these kids to learn about agriculture.”

Wyoming students and teachers are encouraged to visit their school’s elementary library to check out the 2024 book "Seed, Soil, Sun" by Cris Peterson.  Three contests are offered for Wyoming students Kindergarten-5th grade. The contest deadline is March 29, 2024 and details are available here

As part of the program, farmer and rancher volunteer members often conduct classroom book readings and activities to give students an opportunity to meet an actual farmer or rancher and learn directly from them about the food they grow. 

“We have taught kids about farming, where popcorn comes from, and about some of the products made from soybeans,” Hamilton concluded. “These are exciting topics for them as they eat food every day and now every time they eat popcorn they will tell their parents about how it is grown and remember the time a Farm Bureau member came to their class and read that one book to them, or the picture that they colored.”

The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation mission is to represent the voices of Wyoming farmers and ranchers through grassroots policy development while focusing on protecting private property rights, strengthening agriculture, and supporting farm and ranch families through advocacy, education, and leadership development.