State Reports

State Summary 2017 — Michigan

State Contact

Ms. Michelle Blodgett
Michigan Farm Bureau
7373 W. Saginaw Hwy.
Lansing, MI 48909
P: 517.679.5893

Classroom Resources

In 2017, we developed the Agriculture Invention Connection lessons that was showcased at the National Ag in the Classroom conference in Kansas City. The lesson is found on our website:,

In addition to the lesson resource, we developed a how to guide for volunteers who want to be involved in some aspect of our Ag in the Classroom program. The guidebook was presented at our training conference and will be available on our website:

Our FARM(Food, Agriculture and Resources in Motion) Science Lab, a 40 foot mobile classroom, was launched last spring with eight lessons. We worked to refine those throughout the year, and created one additional lesson in 2017. These lessons are not available for download on our site, as they are intended to be taught specifically in our lab. Information about the lab and the lesson descriptions are found at

Major Program Accomplishments or Outputs

In 2017, the Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom program administered through the Promotion & Education Department at Michigan Farm Bureau and funded through the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, continued to tailor our branding in communication and materials for specific audiences. With the launch of the website in late 2016, we moved ahead with an online store for distribution of our Ag in the Classroom resources and promotional items.

We provided support for five educators to attend the National Ag in the Classroom Conference in Kansas City, MO. Michigan continues to emphasize volunteer training and outreach, as well as direct outreach to teachers. Our keystone training conference provided training for more than 200 volunteer leaders. Throughout the state, more than 165 volunteers engaged with more than 7,500 students in Agriculture in the Classroom lessons across 40 counties. Educational events such as Project R.E.D.'s (Rural Education Days) were conducted in 34 counties where more than 2,500 volunteers organized lessons and exhibits to teach 18,000 children about agriculture. Summer provides an increased opportunity for outreach through fairs and exhibitions, where more than 125,000 youth and adults are reached by our volunteer promoters.

In 2017, we continued to focus on accurate agriculture books being read during March is Reading Month. We provided free copies of an accurate agriculture book to all State House and Senate Committee members, so they would use them as they were reading during the month.

2017 also brought a significant adjustment to our Ag in the Classroom direct outreach program with the launch of the FARM Science Lab program. We started the year with an educator and went through a significant staffing transition, that ended up with our hire of a program manager for the FARM Science Lab. Our new manager brings 20 years elementary classroom experience and program management skills to our young program. We also announced the expansion of our program, planned to be implemented in 2019. Through the FARM Science Lab program, we reached 12,800 students and 497 teachers directly with Ag in the Classroom materials.

Major Program Impacts or Outcomes

Staff dedicated to AITC has more than doubled, with the addition of a full-time staff person dedicated to our FARM Science Lab outreach and the sub-contract employment of 3 FARM Science Lab teachers.

Project RED (Rural Education Day) activities remain strong with nearly 50% of county Farm Bureaus hosting the outreach, and three of the events adding additional days to their programs in 2017.

Our volunteer training increased by 25% in 2017.

In 2016, we estimate the My American Farm agricultural education game display reached more than 2,100 children and families through placement in children's museums and libraries throughout the year.

Investments in secondary education outreach increased in 2017, with $5,000 dedicated to high-school student agriculture education outreach training and implementation.


In October 2013, Tonia Ritter joined the Center for Education and Leadership Development as Manager of Promotion and Education. In her 16 years at MFB, Tonia also worked in the Government Relations area for the organization, first as a legislative counsel and then for six years managing the State Government Relations activities. Prior to joining MFB, she worked in marketing and in public relations for agricultural related companies.

Tonia is a graduate of Michigan State University, with a B.S. in Agricultural Communications. Tonia is active in her church and community, and serves as a 4H leader. Tonia and her husband Brad live in Byron, Michigan where they are raising three boysTrevor, Bryce and Evan" on their family dairy farm.