Take peanuts from the farm to the school, and students can use this member of the pea family to learn about agriculture in math, social studies and science courses.
At least that's the view of state and Carroll educators and others, including Jean Knill, a county member of a state advisory task force on education in agriculture.
The task force submitted last month a long-range plan on agriculture education to the Maryland Board of Career and Technology Education.
In a nutshell, the task force wants to add agriculture to the long list of subjects Maryland students should achieve literacy in.
The board has not acted on the report, which contends that teachers,students and the public have a limited knowledge of Maryland agriculture.
Think most students know milk comes from a cow? Think again.
"Most students think milk comes from a carton," said Patti Cannady, a Mount Airy Elementary third-grade teacher. "They don't think about milk coming from a cow or a farm."
Cannady, who has helped develop a handbook of agricultural activities for the classroom, said shebelieves the subject is "definitely something necessary to teach children. It's the backbone of our existence."
While some school districts may be generations away from the farm, Knill said Carroll schools will be in good shape if the state board pursues the task force recommendations, which include enrolling more students in agricultural programs and intergrating agriculture education in the general curriculum.
"We're way ahead of a lot of the agriculture-education emphasis in other counties," said Knill, Carroll County Farm Bureau publicinformation director.
David A. Miller, Carroll's supervisor of vocational and technology education, noted the district added 15 new agriscience and technology courses to update its curriculum last year.
"We're attracting a wider range of students -- some who may pursueagricultural careers or degrees after school," he said.
The task force report noted that agriculture is an industry that is in "desperate need of labor for all levels of employment."
At the middle-school level, Miller said administrators want to add a unit on agriculture to the required technology-education courses for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students.
"From the standpoint of agricultural literacy in education, we're not trying to teach everybody to go into agriculture," Miller said.
"But we need people to have a greater awareness level."
Agriculture is a $100 million industry in Carroll,according to a year-old report on the future of farming in the county.
Agriculture is more than cows and farms. It's an industry that includes golf courses, flower shops, food marketing, small equipment,and parts suppliers and research, Knill said.
That's something all students need to learn, Knill said, noting the report recommended that agricultural understanding begin at the elementary level.
Manyteachers, Miller said, take students on field trips to area farms and invite members of the agricultural community to speak in classrooms. Agriculture education should be integrated in the curriculum, he said.
That's where a farm product like peanuts could come in, Knill noted.
In science, students could learn about growing peanuts. In math, they could count peanuts. And in social studies, they could research the development of peanut butter.