Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell works with Farm Bureau's First Peas to the Table Contest

Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell and Julie Tesch, executive director of the American Farm Bureau (AFB) Foundation for Agriculture, visited Sibley Elementary in Northfield, Minnesota on May 9 to see firsthand what students were learning from the First Peas to the Table Contest. This new national school competition encourages children in kindergarten through fifth grade to plant, raise and harvest peas this spring and is a partnership between the two organizations. 

Cantrell and Tesch were interested in visiting the classrooms in Northfield that are participating to see it in action as the contest ends on May 16. They saw firsthand what students were learning. Classrooms participating include: Sibley Elementary Kindergarten – Mrs. Downs and 3rd grade – Mrs. Johnson; St. Dominics 3rd grade and Northfield Montessori Kindergarten.

“American Farm Bureau does so much for agriculture and our farmers in America,” said Cantrell. “When I realized how much they do for our youth and helping them to realize where their food comes from, then it just made sense to partner with the American Farm Bureau Foundation because those youth are the future of America.”

The contest highlights the AFB Foundation's Book of the Year, “First Peas to the Table,” by Susan Grigsby. The AFB Foundation created the contest to help students understand the importance of healthy foods and agriculture in their everyday lives and to increase their understanding of how plants grow.

The student team that grows the greatest amount of peas (measured in cups) using no more than 20 pea seeds during the official contest period will be declared the winner.

“We are excited to work with Miss America on her platform ‘Healthy Children, Strong America’ to help spread the word about agriculture and food, fiber and fuel production,” said Tesch.

The contest runs March 1 - May 16. To learn more about the contest go to www.agfoundation.org/projects/first-peas-contest-2016. In conjunction with the contest, AFB Foundation encourages educators to invite local farmers and ranchers to speak in their classrooms about food production and the importance of agriculture.

School Assembly and Book Donation
During an all school assembly at Sibley Elementary on May 9, Cantrell spoke on her platform Healthy Children, Strong America and read the AFB Foundation's Book of the Year, “First Peas to the Table,” by Susan Grigsby.

As part of the assembly, the “First Peas to the Table” book signed by Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell was donated to the elementary schools in Northfield and the Northfield Public Library. The books were sponsored by Faribault Foods and the Butter Kernel brand through a donation to the Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation. 

Students in the classrooms participating in the First Peas to the Table Contest also received the book autographed by Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell.

Farm Visits
In addition, to the visit to the school, Cantrell toured FarGaze Farms near Northfield to learn about corn, soybeans, pigs, cattle, peas for processing and renewable fuels. She also met with agricultural leaders and toured Wolf Creek Dairy near Dundas. 

Special guests meeting with Cantrell during the tours included 62nd Princess Kay of the Milky Way Kyla Mauk, Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap, Minnesota Corn Growers Past President and farm tour host Bruce Peterson, Midwest Dairy Association board member and farm tour host Barb Liebenstien, Minnesota Beef Council board member Katie Brenny, Minnesota FFA Association 2015-2016 State Reporter Madison Taylor, 4-Hers in Dakota and Rice Counties, Minnesota Pork Board Chair Kevin Estrem, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council board member Keith Schrader, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association past president John Zimmerman and many other guests.