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EAST LANSING, MI -- Thanks in part to funding provided by the Consumers Energy Foundation, funded by charitable gifts from Consumers Energy Foundation, young Michigan consumers are getting a head start on learning more about where their food really comes from.

Partially funded by a $50,000 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation, Michigan Farm Bureau’s new “Food, Agriculture & Resources in Motion” or FARM Science Lab is hitting the road, beginning its mission to take agricultural education to elementary schools statewide.

“Consumers Energy has a long history of both supporting agriculture in Michigan and promoting science education, so we are pleased to help the FARM Science Lab connect with thousands of students,” said David Mengebier, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “Through support of the FARM Science Lab, we can help non-traditional (non-farm) students better understand where their food comes from and spark interest in agriculture.”

Equipped with the latest teaching technologies and tooled with STEM-based classroom lessons to increase agricultural awareness, the 40-foot mobile classroom made its first visits February - May to half a dozen schools in Kentwood, Ortonville and Sparta. While under-served urban areas will be priority destinations for the FARM Science Lab, its agricultural literacy crusade will stop anywhere it’s summoned.

Staffed by certified teacher Lyndsay Grasman, the FARM Science Lab will help reinforce grade-level standards with hands-on science experiments while increasing students’ knowledge of how agriculture impacts their daily lives. All FARM Science Lab lessons meet Next Generation Science Standards and National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes.

“Our goal with the FARM Science Lab is to offer schools the convenience of bringing a field trip-style experience to their front door,” Grasman explains. “Students will get an engaging, hands-on, out-of-the-classroom experience without the hassle of transportation arrangements or field-trip permission slips.”

Public, private and charter K-5 schools interested in scheduling a FARM Science Lab visit are encouraged to register online or visit www.farmsciencelab.org.

The fund-raising campaign that turned the FARM Science Lab from a dream into a reality was managed by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, a 501c3 charitable organization housed by Michigan Farm Bureau and directed by Deb Schmucker, who also leads MFB’s Center for Education and Leadership Development. Altogether more than $700,000 was generated.

“The support we’ve seen from groups and individuals across the state has really blown us away,” Schmucker said. “This was the Foundation’s first big fund-raising project, and I can’t tell you how encouraged I am at the support we’ve seen. It’s helped the Foundation establish its identity and help people understand its mission: agricultural education and leadership development.”

The Consumers Energy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Consumers Energy, giving Michigan cities, towns and neighborhoods the extra support needed to build communities that we’re proud to call home. The foundation provides grants and mobilizes volunteers to strengthen local education, social services, the environment, and community, economic and cultural development.

Tax-deductible donations to the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture can be mailed to 7373 W. Saginaw Hwy., Lansing, MI, 48909. Call 517-679-5440 or visit www.mifoundationforagriculture.org for more information.

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