Iowa secretary of agriculture tours CAL Elementary School’s farm facilities | Latest News


Small school. Big agriculture education presence.

Coulter-Alexander-Latimer (CAL) Elementary School showed off its agriculture opportunities and facilities to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig on Thursday.






Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig receives a welcome from one of CAL Elementary School’s goats on Thursday.


Abby Koch



Naig traveled to CAL for an Ag in the Classroom teacher workshop that was taking place the same day. He mentioned it was also a good opportunity to see what the school was doing with agriculture.

“I think that this is a tremendous model for how to learn how to bring ag into the classroom in a way that is really just seamless and effective,” said Naig.

CAL is home to a greenhouse and a small animal farm, which is utilized in nearly every subject at the school. CAL uses agriculture to develop curiosity in students and to drive them to find answers to their questions. The produce grown at CAL goes towards their lunch tables or is sold to the local community.

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CAL Farm to Table Coordinator Jill Craighton oversees the agriculture opportunities at the school and is always looking for new ways to expand.

“The more people that see (the facilities), the better,” said Craighton. “I think we all are really proud of what we do and how much it benefits the kids; and it’s clear it benefits the kids.”







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CAL Farm to Table Coordinator Jill Craighton gave a tour of the school’s agriculture facilities to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig on Thursday.


Abby Koch



The school was able to put the farm on their campus through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other funding sources. Steve Lane, the previous coordinator of the farm, and science teacher Jane Gorder were the ones who helped get CAL’s farm and garden space started, according to Craighton.

Craighton led Naig through CAL, pointing out how spaces in the school have utilized agriculture as an education tool. Craighton also shared with Naig how she hopes to grow CAL’s agriculture facilities.

“(Bringing) ag topics into the classroom — into those traditional subject matters — that takes some time and effort. The teachers have to work that into the curriculum, but it can be done with the commitment on the part of the administration and involvement from the community,” said Naig.

CAL Principal Abby Meyer said agriculture has helped them take a different approach with learning than applying traditional practices.







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Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig shaking hands with a workshop participant during his tour of CAL Elementary School on Thursday.


Abby Koch



“We provide a space for kids to be themselves. We are constantly trying to meet the needs of every different kiddo in our building and we do it in many different ways,” said Meyer.

Naig said his biggest takeaway from his tour of CAL was its commitment to fostering curiosity and seeking answers.

“Educating that next generation of people who are going to be the agricultural leaders going into the future, these are the things that can help that develop over time and I’m always interested in that,” said Naig.

Abby covers education and entertainment for the Globe Gazette. Follow her on Twitter at @MkayAbby. Email her at [email protected]

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