Agricultural Literacy Week

Agricultural Literacy Week ~ March 15-19, 2021

How Does Agricultural Literacy Week (ALW) Work?

In celebration of New York agriculture, volunteers throughout the state will read a book with an agricultural theme to elementary students, with a focus on second grade classrooms. Farmers, FFA and 4-H members, adults engaged in a career in agriculture, and engaged in our food system volunteer to enthusiastically engage your students in a paired hands-on activity related to the book to extend learning. The book will be donated to the school or classroom library with a bookplate recognizing the donor and our celebration of New York Agricultural Literacy Week. 2,300 books were donated last year while 75,000 elementary students participated in an experiential learning activity.

Start to finish the program takes approximately 40 minutes per classroom

  1. Agricultural Literacy Week volunteers work with their county's coordinator to set up visits to local schools
  2. Volunteers read the selected book aloud to the students.
  3. Following the reading, volunteers conduct an activity with students and share their experiences in agriculture.
  4. The book is donated to the school or classroom library for students to enjoy and reference throughout the school year.

All activity materials are prepared by NYAITC and schools get to keep a copy of the book for their school or classroom library.

About This Year's Book

Chuck's Ice Cream Wish (Tales of the Dairy Godmother)
Chuck's Ice Cream Wish

Written by Viola Butler
Art by Ward Jenkins

Ice cream is a treat we enjoy in many forms and flavors. But how often do we stop and think about how the ice cream we're eating made its way to the cone or dish we are enjoying it from? Chuck's Ice Cream Wish (Tales of the Dairy Godmother) connects the delicious treat to the work farmers are doing every day to grow, raise and produce our food. This book will take students on an explorative journey learn about dairy and to trace the food on their plate back to its source- the farmer.

With over 4,000 dairy farms and ranking fourth nationally as the largest producer of milk, dairy is vital to New York State. New York State is also the largest producer of yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream in the nation. The dairy community in New York includes both large dairy operations and small, family run farms. It also boasts processing facilities of various types and sizes, from major global processing companies to small artisanal dairy product makers. We are excited to feature a book that displays the unique markets and diversity that encompasses many aspects of New York's dairy industry while also focusing on processing and how consumers contribute to agriculture.

Chuck's Ice Cream Wish (Tales of the Dairy Godmother) highlights the dairy industry with vivid illustrations and a humorous storyline. Students will understand the importance of agriculture as an economic driver in communities across New York and develop an awareness for where their food comes from and its journey.

Companion Lessons and Resources

If you would like to prepare your students for Agricultural Literacy Week or extend the learning afterwards in your elementary classroom, you can use the listed lessons and resources below.

Educator Resources

Resources coming soon!

Lesson Plans
  • It's a MOO-stery! (Grades K-2)
    Students will be introduced to the dairy industry and will make observations about how historic tools such as a butter paddle, cheese press, and milk tester can be used to process milk on a dairy farm.
  • Milk or Meat? Beef or Dairy? (Grades K-2)
    Students will identify the differences between beef and dairy cattle and determine the commodities produced by each type of cattle.
  • Cowabunga! All About Dairy Breeds (Grades 3-5)
    In this lesson, students will understand breed characteristics and countries of origin for five different breeds of dairy cattle. Students will discover why dairy farmers choose individual breeds for specific purposes.
  • Energy's Journey from Farm to You (Grades 3-5)
    Students discover how plants use energy from the sun to change air and water into matter needed for growth. Using dairy cows as an example, students investigate how animals obtain energy from the plants they eat to produce milk for human consumption. Further exploration is facilitated by a live virtual visit to a dairy farm or the option of viewing a pre-recorded virtual dairy farm tour.
  • A Day Without Dairy (Grades 3-5)
    In this lesson, students will create, read, and interpret graphs relating to the economic importance of the dairy industry and be challenged to understand the economic consequences of a day without dairy.
  • It's a MOO-stery! (Grades 3-5)
    Students will make observations and learn about historic tools used on a dairy farm to store and process milk into cheese and butter.
  • Milk Makin' Math (Grades 3-5)
    In this lesson, students will learn about the numerous career opportunities involved in the dairy industry. They will also practice real world math problems related to specific careers within the industry.
  • Sun, to Moo, to You! (Grades 3-5)
    Students will investigate the transfer of energy in the process of making milk. Students will understand that there are different forms of energy, that living things need energy to survive, and that the primary source of energy is the sun.
  • The Ultimate Efficient Recycler (Grades 3-5)
    In this lesson, students will examine how cows help conserve natural resources by identifying the important role dairy cattle have in reducing, reusing and recycling food processing by-products. Students will identify each of the stages in the ecological cycle and the important role of decomposers.
  • Whipping Butter into Shape (Grades 3-5)
    Students will investigate the physical change that occurs as milk is turned into butter.
  • Blue's the Clue: Souring Milk for Science (Grades 3-5)
    This lab introduces students to the effect temperature has on reducing and controlling the growth of bacteria. Students will use conventionally pasteurized and ultra-high-temperature (UHT) milk to observe how different temperatures (hot, room temperature, cool, and freezing) affect the growth of spoilage bacteria. They will also learn about the importance of pasteurization in keeping food safe.
  • FoodMASTER Middle: Cheese (Grades 6-8)
    Students will learn about the Law of Conservation of Mass by exploring environmental factors that can impact protein coagulation in milk (cheese-making process). By making qualitative and quantitative observations they will test three possible methods of making curds and whey.
  • FoodMASTER Middle: Yogurt (Grades 6-8)
    Students will learn the role of bacterial fermentation and evaluate the effect of fat content, sugar content (lactose), and temperature in bacterial fermentation as they make yogurt.
  • FoodMASTER: Milk and Cheese (Grades 6-8)
    Students will taste test four different milks while comparing color, texture, taste and cost. In addition, students will read the four milk food labels and complete a table comparing calories, fat and calcium found in the milks. The class will make cottage cheese by heating milk to the proper temperature and adding an acid (vinegar) to speed up the separation of curds and whey.
  • The QUEST for the Whole Enchilada (Grades 6-8)
    This lesson utilizes a process learning model to recognize how the Columbian Exchange and early Spanish explorers impacted the culture and cuisine of the Southwest United States. Students will participate in a food lab to make enchiladas and learn about the production of each ingredient.
  • Blue's the Clue: Souring Milk for Science (Grades 9-12)
    This lab introduces students to the effect temperature has on reducing and controlling the growth of bacteria. Students will use conventionally pasteurized and ultra-high-temperature (UHT) milk to observe how different temperatures (hot, room temperature, cool, and freezing) affect the growth of spoilage bacteria. They will also learn about the importance of pasteurization in keeping food safe.
  • Lactose Lab: Some Don't Like it Sweet (Grades 9-12)
    In this lesson students will learn the chemistry and composition of milk, identify the difference between a monosaccharide and disaccharide, and carry out a laboratory activity testing the effect of the enzyme lactase on various milks.
  • Milk: The Scoop on Chemical and Physical Changes (Grades 9-12)
    In this lesson students apply their knowledge of physical science to dairy products to determine if the changes that take place when turning milk into cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, whip cream and other dairy products, is a physical or chemical change.
  • Stacking Up Milk and Milk Substitutes (Grades 9-12)
    Students will compare and contrast milk and plant-based milk substitutes by learning their source from farm-to-table and discovering how they "stack-up" in nutritional value. Students will also explore food package labeling laws and consumer trends in milk consumption to think critically about the impact of labels in marketing and consumer perceptions of food.
  • Clarabelle
    By featuring a single cow (Clarabelle) and her calf on a large, modern-day Wisconsin dairy farm, Peterson describes all the latest technology that enables farmers to create energy and other by-products from their herds. And yet none of the modern-day machinery matches the miracle of production that is the cow herself. Vibrant, close-up photographs capture Clarabelle with her herdmates and her newborn calf as well as the family members of Norswiss Farm who live and work together.
  • Extra Cheese, Please!
    When Annabelle gives birth to her calf, she also begins to produce milk. The milk is then processed into cheese, and from the cheese, pizza is made. An excellent nonfiction look at milk production.
  • Kiss the Cow!
    Never. Not a chance. Annalisa wouldn't dream of kissing Luella the cow, even though her mother kisses her every day after singing her a song and milking her. Still, inquisitive Annalisa is awfully interested in milking Luella, and one day she sneaks off and does everything just the way her mother does - except for the kiss on the nose. Will Annalisa's innate curiosity get the best of her?
  • Let's Make Butter
    This book describes the way foods can change, using butter as an example, and shows the steps needed to make heavy cream into butter.
  • Make Mine Ice Cream
    A colorful photographic journey from milk to ice cream. A 'big book' format for young audiences.
  • Milk Comes From a Cow?
    Follow the travels of Kailey as this city girl visits a dairy farm to learn where milk comes from. Gather trivia about milk along the way and take a tour of a milk processing plant. This educational story offers a fun way for young people, parents, and teachers to learn more about agriculture. The book, sponsored by the Kansas Farm Bureau, is now available for download from their website as part of an app that comes complete with a host of bonus features and videos.
  • On the Farm, at the Market
    Take a behind-the-scenes tour of three different farms where food is locally grown, harvested, and sold at the market. This book illustrates the journey of vegetables, cheese, and mushrooms as they travel from the farm to your fork.
  • The Milk Makers
    This 32-page book describes and illustrates the process of milk production from the care of the cows to the processing of the milk and each step in between.
  • "Cheese Science-As Gouda as TV Gets" Video Series
    The Utah Education Network (UEN) website has a series of 25 three minute video clips about cheese and food science. The videos teach science, chemistry, and physics principles in addition to highlighting many careers in related fields.
  • Brittlelactica: Planet in Need
    The "Brittlelactica" integrated campaign tells the story of a race of calcium deficient aliens who discover the health benefits of milk and begin abducting cows, whom they dub "The Supreme Ones."
  • Dairy in the Mountain West: Our Family of Farmers
    This video highlights dairy farmers and their families. See many different dairy farms, learn about how they care for animals, dairy farmer's priorities in animal welfare, and how dairy farms utilize their resources to increase their sustainability and decrease their environmental footprint.
  • From Moo to You Video
    This 26-minute program from the Gee Whiz in Agriculture series explores a dairy food processing plant that makes many of our favorite foods, such as cheese, butter, and ice cream. Why "milk does a body good" and why it's considered nature's most perfect food are emphasized. A direct comparison of the nutrient values of milk and soft drinks are made, along with other nutritional considerations. This video can be purchased on DVD or accessed on YouTube.
  • Hilmar Cheese Company Virtual Video Tour
    10-minute video for elementary students to learn about the dairy industry. They visit the dairy farm and the processing plant where they learn about pasteurization and cheese making.
  • Make Mine Milk
    This 27-minute DVD teaches students where milk comes from, how milk is transported and processed, and how milk contributes to a nutritious diet. Order this DVD online from
  • Mobile System Removes Phosphorus From Manure
    Read about the research for a mobile system designed to remove phosphorus from cow manure. This technology may offer dairy farmers greater flexibility in where, when, and how they use the nutrient to fertilize crops.
  • Moo 2 You DVD
    What happens when the substitute teacher, Ms. Moo, leads the class for a day? Join Ms. Moo in a fun, fast mooving learning experience for grade school students. Through zany games of "Moo-nopoly" & "Pyramid of Power" Ms. Moo and her class discover life on a farm, where milk comes from, how cheese is made, and how milk group foods keep bones and teeth healthy and strong. Order this DVD online from
  • NMSU Field Trip: Milk
    Take a Field Trip! through the dairy to discover how milk gets in the carton. Whether you're dipping or pouring, milk is an essential part of our diet.
  • The Journey of Milk
    Watch this 4-minute video clip to teach about the dairy farm. Students will learn about what dairy cows eat and how they are cared for to produce the milk we drink and the dairy products we consume.
  • Why Can a Cow Eat Grass? Video
    Beef and dairy cattle provide us with hundreds of different products, and all they need is an ample supply of grass and other plants. Most of these plants people can't even eat, so why can cows eat them? This Gee Whiz in Agriculture video provides an in-depth look at the digestive system of cattle, focusing on differences between cattle and humans. Take a journey into a cow’s stomach and microscopically view the stomach contents. Ten-year old “experts” will share their “MOO-ving” experiences with you. This video is available on DVD or YouTube. Order this DVD online from

Agricultural Literacy Week Archive

Now in its 17th Year, Agricultural Literacy Week has helped to bring agriculturally themed books and resources into thousands of classrooms and libraries throughout New York State.

Click book image below to explore past years books and resources.
  • Right This Very Minute
  • On the Farm, At the Market
  • Before We Eat: From Farm to Table
  • The Grapes Grow Sweet
  • The Apple Orchard Riddle
  • Weaving the Rainbow
  • Who Grew My Soup?
  • The Beeman
  • The Honeybee Man
  • Seed, Soils, Sun
  • Chicks & Chickens
  • The Tree Farmer
  • Sugarbush Spring
  • Empire State Investigator
  • Lily's Garden
  • Extra Cheese Please

Sponsorships & Donations

Would you like to fund the purchase of one or more books?

The books are $12 each and will be donated to the school library after being read.

Contact your county coordinator for more details on where to send your donation. Donors will be recognized on a special bookplate. You may choose to have your donated book sent to a specific school, or to read it yourself to your local school.

For County Coordinators

This area of NYAITC's website is for those who assist with carrying out Agriculture in the Classroom programming. County coordinators should follow the link below to login and access planning documents and information regarding Agricultural Literacy Week.
Access documents and information regarding ALW »

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