About Us

History of New York Agriculture in the Classroom

Established in 1985, New York Agriculture in the Classroom (NYAITC) is a partnership of Cornell University, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, the NYS Education Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the New York Farm Bureau.


Our mission is to foster awareness, understanding, and appreciation of how we produce food and fiber, what we eat, and how we live, by helping educators, students, and their communities learn about and engage with agriculture and food systems.

We work with pre-K through middle school teachers, Cornell Cooperative Extension and other community educators, farmers and producers, volunteers, parents, and community partners to increase agricultural literacy in New York State.

What is Agricultural Literacy?

Less than 2% of our population actually produces food on farms, while nearly 20% of our nation's workforce is in some way, shape, or form involved in the processing, marketing, distribution, and sales of food and fiber products. We all rely on agriculture every day--from food we eat, fibers our clothes are made of, and other materials we use each day to agriculture's relationship with our environment, economy, and society. And yet, little is taught in most schools about agriculture and food and fiber systems. NYAITC aims to increase agricultural literacy while supporting opportunities for hands-on teaching and learning, meeting state standards, enhancing student achievement, and connecting with community.

What is New York Agriculture in the Classroom?

NYAITC envisions a day when educators, students, and communities in New York:

  • Recognize the connection between agricultural production and the daily consumption of food and fiber products
  • Appreciate the economic, social, historical, and scientific significance of agriculture in our local and global society
  • Understand the complexity of today's agriculture and food systems
  • Explore the many career opportunities in all areas of agriculture and food systems

Annual Report

See how the Agricultural Education Outreach team is providing educational opportunities that develop informed consumers and help students of all ages to become agriculturally literate.

2019 Report
Past Reports

Specialty License Plates Support NY AITC

In 2003, Lt. Governor Mary Donohue, along with State Agriculture Commissioner Nathan L. Rudgers and State Commissioner of Motor Vehicles Raymond P. Martinez, unveiled New York's "Ag Tag" custom license plate, the proceeds from which will benefit the New York Agriculture in the Classroom Program.
More Detail »


  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • New York Farm Bureau
  • New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
  • NYS Education Department
  • National Agriculture in the Classroom
  • New York Farm Bureau Foundation for Agricultural Education

Advisory Committee

Permanent Members
  • Shari Lighthall
    Shari Lighthall
    Agricultural Education Outreach
  • Alexa Maille
    Alexa Maille
    NYS 4-H STEM Specialist
    Cornell Cooperative Extension & Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research
  • Darleen Krisher-Meehan
    Darleen Krisher-Meehan
    New York Farm Bureau State Promotion & Education Committee
  • Tahirah Cook
    Tahirah Cook
    Excelsior Fellow
    NYS Department of Ag and Markets
Rotating Member
  • Mary Coolbaugh
    Mary Coolbaugh
    Agriculture Teacher
    DeRuyter Central School
  • Mary Jeanne Packer
    Mary Jeanne Packer
    Executive Director
    Christmas Tree Farmers Assoc. of NY, Inc.
  • Christina Day
    Christina Day
    4-H Educator
    Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chenango County
  • Kate Downes
    Kate Downes
    Program Coordinator
    NY Farm Net
  • Katherine Brosnan Staiger
    Katherine Brosnan Staiger
    Director of Industry Relations & Consumer Promotions
    New York Beef Council
  • Tess Southern
    Tess Southern
    Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Patti Fisher
    Patti Fisher
    American Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Committee
  • Kate Dorr
    Kate Dorr
    Assistant School Lunch Director
    Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES
Agricultural Outreach and Education Team
  • Katie Carpenter
    Katie Carpenter
    New York Agriculture in the Classroom
  • Sarah Peavey
    Sarah Peavey
    Program Assistant
    New York Agriculture in the Classroom
  • Shari Lighthall
    Shari Lighthall
    Agricultural Education Outreach
  • Derek Hill
    Derek Hill
    New York FFA

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