March 19, 2024
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Celebrates Agricultural Literacy Week in New York State

Governor Hochul Celebrates Agricultural Literacy Week in New York State

Week-Long Effort Will Benefit a Record 100,000+ Students This Year and Promote Importance of Agricultural Industry Through Fun Hands-On Lessons

Lieutenant Governor, Agriculture Commissioner, and State Staff Members Join Volunteers Across the State in Reaching 3,300 Classrooms

Complements Governor’s 2024 State of the State Plan to Boost Agriculture and Workforce Development Initiatives Statewide

Governor Kathy Hochul today celebrated Agricultural Literacy Week in New York, announcing a full slate of reading events planned across the state throughout the week. Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball, and New York staff members are joining thousands of volunteers across the state to visit classrooms and engage with students through a book reading and hands-on activities. Now in its 19th year, Agricultural Literacy Week is a statewide effort organized by New York Agriculture in the Classroom to educate students about the importance of agriculture and opportunities for careers in the industry.

“Each year, Agricultural Literacy Week gets our kids reading, learning, and opening their eyes to the opportunities in agriculture that are all around them, and it’s key to ensuring that we will have a thriving agricultural industry here in New York State for years to come,” Governor Hochul said. “As a former 4-H kid myself, I salute the thousands of volunteers across the state who are taking the time to teach our students where their food comes from and to care for the land around them.”

“I’m proud to once again participate in the statewide Agricultural Literacy Week effort and get the chance to read to some of our youngest New Yorkers,” said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. “There’s nothing more important than reaching our students and encouraging them to broaden their learning. With this initiative, we’re planting seeds of opportunity for our kids, teaching them about agriculture in the state, and its impact on their everyday lives, as well as the world around them.”

New York State has one of the longest running and largest Agricultural Literacy Week programs in the country. Each year, volunteers visit schools throughout the state to read an agricultural-themed book to students. This week, Lieutenant Governor Delgado will visit John James Audubon School No. 33 School in Rochester on Tuesday, March 19. Commissioner Ball will also visit a second-grade classroom at Schoharie Elementary School on Thursday, March 21. In addition, nearly two dozen Department of Agriculture and Markets staff members are joining the statewide volunteer effort to visit classrooms and conduct lessons, nearly double the number of staff members that participated last year. For classrooms that are unable to host a volunteer this year, and to share the educational lessons of this year’s Ag Literacy book far and wide, a video recording of the book reading by Commissioner Ball is available here.

Agricultural Literacy Week 2024 celebrates strawberries, one of the sweetest fruits of summer. This year’s selected book, “I LOVE Strawberries,” written by Shannon Anderson with art by Jaclyn Sinquett, shares one girl’s unstoppable mission to grow her own food from seedling to table in a colorful introduction to the joy of growing the popular perennial. In the book, young Jolie is determined to convince her parents to let her grow strawberries and she models the qualities of responsibility, creativity, and tenacity. Ranking 8th in the nation in production of strawberries, New York’s strawberry crop is one of the first local foods available in markets and roadside stands during each harvest season.

In 2024, a record 103,000 students statewide will be a part of Agricultural Literacy Week. During volunteers’ visits, students benefit from an interactive lesson with volunteers sharing their personal experiences in agriculture. Teachers are provided with follow up activities to continue these important educational opportunities throughout the school year.

To learn more about NYAITC and Agricultural Literacy Week, including a list of previous years’ books, visit

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball said, “One of the most important responsibilities we have as an agricultural community is to instill in our young people an understanding and appreciation of how our food is grown and where it comes from. Getting young children excited about food and agriculture is essential to building healthy eating habits and to introducing them to the many possibilities for future jobs in this critical industry. I am thrilled to join Lieutenant Governor Delgado, my staff, and so many other volunteers who are heading into the classroom this week to share the story of agriculture, and I encourage others to learn more and get involved.”

New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “Agriculture Literacy Week provides a unique opportunity for individuals with a vested interest in our state’s food supply system to engage students in the promotion of literacy through agriculture-themed books and hands-on activities. Agricultural sustainability is vital for our economy, our health, and nutrition. In a state where nearly one-quarter of our land is used for farming and cultivation, it is vital to educate the next generation of farmers and dairy producers. We are lucky to live in a state where fresh and local is a way of life and we are proud to be a part of this initiative to raise awareness for New York agriculture while integrating the principles of literacy for our state’s students.”

State Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “In its 19th year, Agriculture Literacy Week continues to be an incredible tool for educating our youngest about where their food comes from, how it's grown, the importance of having a local food supply, and instilling an early sense of responsibility for caring for their environment. I thank all the agricultural educators across New York State who are empowering our next generation with valuable skills and knowledge, inspiring young minds to start their own gardens, and maybe one day pursue future careers in agriculture.”

Assemblymember Donna Lupardo said, “Each year I look forward to participating in Agricultural Literacy Week. It’s inspiring to see agriculture come to life for students through stories and activities. These experiences will help develop a deeper appreciation of where our food comes from, along with a responsibility for protecting our land. Thank you to all of New York’s agricultural educators for their commitment and dedication to this important work.”

New York Agriculture in the Classroom Director Katie Carpenter said, “Agricultural Literacy Week is our favorite celebration of the year. There is so much excitement in connecting volunteer farmers, food and agriculture industry partners, and youth in agriculture with schools to read a great book highlighting one of our sweetest crops in New York – strawberries! Our hope is that through an authentic and fun experience around agriculture, we are growing an agriculturally literate population who understands the complexities and importance of local, national, and global food systems in their daily lives.”

New York Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Chair Bill Zalakar said, “Agricultural Literacy Week is a wonderful opportunity to share agriculture's story with students across the state. It opens the door for them to learn about where their food comes from and the hardworking people who farm every day. New York Farm Bureau has been a longtime partner in the project, and we will have member volunteers reading to students in school districts throughout New York. We encourage everyone to share the story of our family farms that provide so much to their communities.”

Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (Cornell CALS) Ronald P. Lynch Dean Benjamin Houlton said, “Food and agriculture are the building blocks of society. CALS has been focused on developing the next generation of leaders in agriculture for more than 150 years, inspiring new solutions that benefit New York and the world. I’m grateful to Governor Hochul for raising awareness about Agricultural Literacy Week, and for the commitment of so many educators and extension specialists across New York who are working hard to foster appreciation for where our food and fiber come from. Their collective efforts are expanding knowledge and skills in young people who will translate this knowledge into future action for the benefit of us all.”

Expanding Agricultural Education Throughout New York State

The Governor’s 2024 State of the State address and FY 2025 Budget continue to prioritize investments in agricultural education to support workforce development and ensure that agriculture remains a viable industry in New York State. Governor Hochul has proposed a youth agriculture leadership conference, increased support for the FFA in the Executive Budget by $250,000 for a total of $1.25 million, and dedicated $1 million to support the NYAITC program and increase the number of certified agricultural educators in New York State. In addition, $250,000 is included in the Executive Budget in support of Urban Agricultural Education and $50,000 for the MANRRS program. Together, these programs help meet the growing demand for agricultural education across New York.

About New York Agriculture in the Classroom

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

Its mission is to foster awareness, understanding, and appreciation of how food and fiber are produced, what we eat and how we live, by helping educators, students, and their communities learn about and engage with agriculture and food systems. NYAITC works with pre-K through high school teachers, pre-service teachers, Cornell Cooperative Extension and other community educators, farmers and producers, volunteers, parents, and community partners to increase agricultural literacy in New York State. Learn more at

Contact the Governor's Press Office

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