The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has awarded 15 $500 mini-grants to communities across the nation. The grants are awarded through the Foundation's White-Reinhardt Fund for Education program.

The grants are allocated through county and state Farm Bureaus and are used to create new agricultural literacy projects or expand existing agricultural literacy efforts.

Criteria for selecting winners included: the effectiveness of demonstrating a strong connection between agriculture and education; how successfully the project enhances learner engagement in today's food, fiber and fuel systems; and the processes and timelines for accomplishing project goals.

"Agriculture plays a vital role in our everyday lives," said Julie Tesch, executive director of the Foundation. "Through the mini-grant program, we're able to help young rural and urban students better understand this," she added. Farm Bureau members share free educational resources with educators in their communities as part of the program.

The White-Reinhardt Fund for Education is a project of the Foundation in cooperation with the American Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Committee. The fund honors two former committee chairwomen, Berta White and Linda Reinhardt, who were trailblazers in early national efforts to expand the outreach of agricultural education and improve agricultural literacy.

2015 Mini-Grants Awarded to State and County Farm Bureaus:

Cook County Farm Bureau, Illinois
Creation of a middle school presentation, Ag Science and Careers, to show students the numerous STEM careers in agriculture.

Centre County Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania
High school classes will design and build a desktop aquaponics system to illustrate biological concepts, the importance of a stable food security system and healthy food production.

Delaware County Farm Bureau, Ohio
Creation of a "salad bar" garden by a fifth-grade class will involve hands-on learning and foster real-life skills while increasing agricultural literacy.

Gratiot County Farm Bureau, Michigan
Focused educational resources such as books, ag mags and educator guides will enrich a fourth-grade tour of a local farm and agricultural education stations.

Hiawathaland Farm Bureau, Michigan
Ag lessons and Michigan ag commodity fact posters will increase agricultural literacy and enhance the educational experience of the annual fifth-grade agriculture and natural resources farm tour in Delta County.

Houston County Farm Bureau, Minnesota
Renovation of Houston County Farm Bureau's fair booth will show how farmers conserve the soil and protect the water, in addition to focusing on the dairy industry and milk safety.

Isabella County Farm Bureau, Michigan
Placement of accurate ag books and accompanying puppets in elementary schools (book barns) to engage students in conversations about agriculture.

Mifflin County Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania
Barn bookshelves with agriculture-related books and educational resources for public and private elementary schools in Mifflin County will give learners the opportunity to explore food, fiber and fuel systems.

Monroe County Farm Bureau, Georgia
An indoor learning garden at an elementary school will include an ebb and flow hydroponic system to grow strawberries and tomatoes.

Newton County Farm Bureau, Georgia
Educator workshop for elementary school teachers across the county will help build relationships and encourage incorporation of agriculture into lessons.

Olmsted County Farm Bureau, Minnesota
The "Fun with Farmer Program" shows kindergarten through sixth grade inner-city students agriculture first-hand and incorporates hands-on lessons, a trip to the Olmsted County Fair and interaction with Farm Bureau leaders.

Ottawa County Farm Bureau, Kansas
A vegetable garden and rabbit-raising project at a grade school will teach kindergarten through sixth grade students how plants help humans and animals, and that animals are beneficial to both plants and humans.

Pickins County Farm Bureau, South Carolina
High school-age 4-H and FFA members will be trained to teach elementary and high school students the Foundation's Pillars of Ag Literacy.

Scott County Farm Bureau, Kansas
Students will learn about the importance of water conservation through lessons in elementary school classrooms, a third-grade farm day and becoming part of the Scott County Conservation day.

Washtenaw County Farm Bureau, Michigan
A compost system will be created to accompany rain and vegetable garden plans at an elementary school, in addition to providing accurate ag books on the food production cycle and the importance of caring for the environment.