RICHMOND—Elementary and middle school-age children soon will learn about agriculture from Farmer Ben, a character that will be part of educational materials created by Virginia’s Agriculture in the Classroom program. Farmer Ben was created in response to requests from Virginia Farm Bureau volunteers who do educational activities with children, said Tammy Maxey, AITC senior education programmer. 'They were looking for some type of farmer-hero, so that when they went and worked with children the hero would serve as a model of a typical Virginia farmer. 'We wanted Farmer Ben to look like a modern farmer,' Maxey added. In Ready, Set, GROW! , the first in a series of Farmer Ben books being developed, the character is shown on farms that use current technology and equipment. Future materials will include more information about Farmer Ben’s family and diverse farm operation. Those materials will be tools to teach children where their food comes from and how farmers take care of crops, animals and land. AITC is a nonprofit organization that provides teachers with educational materials that incorporate agriculture into Standards of Learning-based lesson plans. The Farmer Ben materials are included in educational packets distributed to elementary and middle school teachers who participate in AITC workshops. They also will be used at county fairs and on farm tours. Contact Maxey at 804-290-1143.