RICHMOND—Virginia’s Agriculture in the Classroom program is the recipient of the 2012 Agriculture in the Classroom Excellence Grant from the National Agriculture in the Classroom Consortium. This is the fifth time the Virginia program has received an ACE Grant. The grant will be used to develop a new garden curriculum, Jumpstart Your School Garden, for use in elementary schools across the state. The garden curriculum will be shared with teachers and AITC professionals during the 2013 AITC National Conference in Minneapolis. “School gardens are wonderful instructional tools that bring learning outdoors and help students apply lessons learned in math and science,” said Lynn Black, Virginia AITC education program coordinator. Jumpstart Your School Garden will provide practical tips on starting a school garden, as well as lessons designed to incorporate the garden into classroom instruction. “Even educators without school gardens will be able to bring a bit of the outdoors into their classrooms through the book’s activities,” Black said. Virginia AITC is a statewide educational program that provides teachers with resources and lesson plans they can use to integrate agriculture across the curriculum. The lesson plans support core subjects and uphold Virginia’s Standards of Learning. “AITC connects farms to schools through education by helping teachers and students understand the impact of agriculture on their daily lives, their health, society, the economy and the environment,” said Karen Davis, Virginia AITC executive director. Most American children will not experience farm life as part of their upbringing like they might have two or three generations ago, Davis noted. “Children are as far removed from the natural world and agriculture as they have ever been.” All AITC services are free to teachers and schools and are funded by contributions to the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. For more information on AITC, visit AgInTheClass.org. Contact Davis at 804-290-1142.