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Colorado Agriculture in the Classroom

Literacy Project

Photo by Mattes Michaela

The Literacy Project is an annual interactive learning experience where each participating class receives a FREE class kit complete with educational resources and enough supplies to complete hands-on activities with students. This program integrates agricultural themes into PreK-12 instruction, connecting to academic standards for language arts, social studies, STEM, and AFNR. This project seeks to cultivate a love for reading while enhancing the understanding of agricultural concepts, ultimately fostering empowered and literate communities. A new topic and book, featuring Colorado agriculture stories, are chosen each year. This is a FREE program.

2025 Literacy Project

Cattle, Corn, and Courage – The Story of Dr. John Matsushima

He looks briefly down at his shoes, and back at the list of student names in his book. Among them are some of the current legends of the cattle feeding business, and the contributions that were made on the solid foundation of his own, are reason to hold his head high.

Dr. John Matsushima, who is currently 103 years old, is the son of Japanese immigrants, born in Denver and raised on a family farm in Platteville, Colorado. He started raising cattle as a member of 4-H and FFA and attended Colorado A&M, now Colorado State University, in Fort Collins. He has spent nearly 65 years of his life at CSU as a student, professor, and researcher, maintaining regular office hours until 2020. Dr. Matsushima battled bigotry and poverty on his path to becoming a legendary scientist in beef cattle nutrition whose innovations have influenced the global food system. Dr. Matsushima has already educated several generations of students and we can’t wait to share his story and significance with a new generation of students.

Sponsorship Opportunities Available

We are looking for sponsors to help bring this project to 50,000 PreK-12 grade students and their teachers! The total budget a little over $106,000. For the full project scope, budget, and sponsorship opportunities, read the full project proposal. To learn more, contact Jennifer Scharpe, CoAITC Executive Director.

Open to PreK-12 Students

NEW for 2025 – Two class kits will be available! The elementary kit inlcudes a copy of the new children’s book with Dr. Matsushima’s story, a short video interview with Dr. Matsushima, samples of corn, a beefstick for all participants, a History Colorado virtual field trip, and corresponsing educational resources. The middle/high school kit will include a copy of the children’s book, a longer video on Dr. Matsushima, corresponding educational resrouces, and a new Colorado Ag Careers magazine (published in partnership with The Fence Post) with a higher-level story on Dr. Matsushima and advertorials on careers in agriculture. The middle/high school kit is targeted towards FFA and agriculture students, but open to all subject area classes.

Teacher sign up form opens in the fall of 2024. Deadline for teacher participation is January 20, 2025. Check out our flyer for more info!

2024 Literacy Project - Featuring Pueblo Chile

The project focus for 2024 is the Pueblo Chile – a unique chile pepper variety vital to Colorado agriculture. A new book – featuring the true-life story of Pueblo Chiles has been published for this project. The book was produced by a family team from Colorado – Rachel Allnutt of Walden is the author, Sierra Linke of Craig is the illustrator, and McCall Knecht of Pueblo is the publisher. Copies of the book may be purchased from Knecht Media.

Thank you to our 2024 Literacy Project Sponsors

Thank you to those who helped bring this project to life! Colorado Department of Agriculture, Pueblo Seed & Food Company, Pueblo Chile Growers Association, CSU Rural Initiatives, Colorado Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Committee, Pueblo County Farm Bureau, DiSanti Farm, Milberger Farms at Peppe's, Musso Farms, Crites Produce, McCall Knecht, plus many individual sponsors. This program has had a HUGE impact across Colorado!!

We Made the News!

The Colorado Literacy Project featuring Pueblo chiles is going viral with media coverage across the state. We thank all the networks and outlets who have shared our story! Also thanks to our agriculture industry partners who have promoted this project to their stakeholders.

Literacy Project Archive