Armed with books, beekeeper suits and real honey and honeycomb, volunteers read to thousands of students during the Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom program’s annual Agriculture Literacy Week March 5-9. “Everyone was excited to read These Bees Count and share many stories and feature local beekeepers and their many tools of the trade,” remarked Tammy Maxey, AITC senior education manager. “Early indicators are that 1,000 volunteers read to 60,000 children in over 2,800 classrooms. Reading will continue throughout the remainder of the school year.” These Bees Count by Alison Formento is the 2018 Virginia AITC Book of the Year. Many volunteer readers donated copies to school and classroom libraries. Del. Tommy Wright, R-Victoria, said he donates the AITC Book of the Year to schools in his district each year. “The bee books this year were great, with the colorful pages about bees and how they operate. I will share them with schools across my district,” Wright said. Other volunteer readers included Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring, Acting Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Charles Green, employees of Farm Credit of the Virginias and members of Farm Bureau’s Women’s and Young Farmers programs. “This project provides an awesome opportunity for volunteers to share the story of agriculture with children across the state,” Maxey noted. “We are excited at the continued success of this initiative.” Virginia AITC is part of a nationwide effort to help teachers and students understand and appreciate agriculture, which is Virginia’s and the nation’s largest industry. The program provides an opportunity for children to connect to agriculture through volunteer lead activities, school grants, educator professional development and Web resource at AgInTheClass.org. The AITC program is funded by donations received through the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. Many county Farm Bureaus donate annually. For information on supporting the foundation’s educational initiatives, visit AgInTheClass.org, and click on the “Donor” link.