Holiday gift includes 32 children’s books in a cardboard barn

A Barn Full of Books: A unique farm-related literacy project
Kaye Collier from United Way of Northeastern Minnesota and Ed Nelson from the Arrowhead Regional Farm Bureau and Mr. Ed’s Farm are pictured with children at the Learning Academy in Keewatin. Submitted photo.

Kaye Collier from United Way of Northeastern Minnesota and Ed Nelson from the Arrowhead Regional Farm Bureau and Mr. Ed’s Farm are pictured with children at the Learning Academy in Keewatin. Submitted photo.

IRON RANGE – The Arrowhead Regional Farm Bureau (ARFB) is partnering with United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN) on a unique project. The two organizations received $1,000 from the White-Reinhardt Fund for Education Mini-Grant program, which funds projects that increase agricultural literacy. It was the only grant of its kind issued in the state of Minnesota.

Together, the ARFB and UWNEMN have used the funds to purchase child-friendly, farm-related books to distribute to Iron Range childcare and early childhood education programs.

“Each facility will receive 32 books in a cardboard barn as a holiday gift,” said Ed Nelson, ARFB secretary and owner of Mr. Ed’s Farm in Hibbing. “When children have these books read to them, they will gain early literacy skills and learn what life is like on a farm. The books will have a lasting impact because they will be read over and over to many children into the future. Many of the recipient facilities bring groups out to Mr. Ed’s Farm. The children will have knowledge of farm life that we can talk about when they come to visit and tour the farm.”

The partnership originated when UWNEMN held one of their Wild About Reading free family literacy events at Mr. Ed’s Farm during the summer of 2018.

“UWNEMN is proud to partner with the ARFB on this project to increase ear ly literacy and agricultural literacy to our area children,” said Kaye Collier, coordi nator of the Wild About Reading events. “One of UWNEMN’s focus areas is early education and literacy for children in our region and this fits perfectly.”

Nelson and Collier delivered all of the barns and books, with Nelson dressing in farmer attire and reading to children at each site.

The following sites will receive the Barns Full of Books:

• Kiddy Carousel Daycare, Hibbing

• Apple Tree Daycare, Virginia

• ECFE & School Readiness, Rangewide

• Kids ABC Learning Center Inc., Chisholm

• Learning Academy, Keewatin

• AEOA Head Start, Range-wide

• Range Mental Health Center— ADAPT Services for Children, Rangewide

• Our Saviors Lutheran Church—Children’s Library, Hibbing

• Open Door Church, Hibbing

• Quad Cities Kids Day Care, Virginia

The White-Reinhardt Fund for Education is a special project of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture in cooperation with the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee. It was established to honor two former chairs of that committee, Berta White and Linda Reinhardt, who were leaders in the national effort to improve agricultural literacy.

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