Agriculture in the classroom focus of Rolling Hills author

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MICHELLE GIETZ
BROOKS BULLETIN

Local author Conny Kappler has taken a practical step to help resolve a growing disconnect between rural and urban populations. In her new non-fiction book, Dirt to Dinner, Kappler approaches learning about farming with a combination of story and science facts.
“I wrote the book with three objectives in mind,” said Kappler, “to connect rural and urban, to encourage reading and to teach kids about agriculture.”
Being involved for over 20 years in the Classroom Agriculture Program, Kappler has informed children about the realities of farming. Currently, she is the Southeast Alberta representative for the program. She is hoping that some of the classroom volunteers, particularly those in Calgary and Edmonton, will use the book in their presentations.
“The book is a lot of what I present when I do the presentation.”
There are two streams of reading within the book. The main text flows with repetition to help build vocabulary about farming, complemented by informative facts on science concepts in relation to agriculture such as photosynthesis, weather and soil composition.
She is very dedicated to educating urbanites about agriculture. Finding the time to write the book was a challenge because of her busy agricultural life. Kappler, who used to be an agricultural fieldman now splits her time between her parent’s farm in Cypress County and the Rolling Hills farm where she farms with her husband Mike. In addition, she sits on the Cypress County Agricultural Service Board and runs a market garden in Rolling Hills, transporting her produce to the Medicine Hat Farmer’s Market.
With this strong background in agriculture and her time in the classroom, Kappler is very familiar with what children perceive about agriculture and what they need to know to understand where their food comes from.
“Alberta Agricultural Service Boards have been advocating for years through the resolution process to get more agricultural education into schools. It seems to be a long process.”
Getting the book into elementary schools is a start which will hopefully help the process along. Kappler is marketing the book to municipalities through the agricultural service boards by having them purchase at least 10 books each to donate to area schools in their urban centers. Many of them are already on board.
Cypress County and the MD of Smokey River have pre-ordered books. Cypress County has committed to two books for each elementary school in Medicine Hat, Redcliff and within the county.
“In bringing agricultural service boards into the distribution of this book, we can cover a good part of the province.”
Private sales are also off to a good start. Kappler had a book signing event in Rolling Hills this past Sunday with about 40 people in attendance. A number of books were sold.
The bright colored photos in the book are sure to enchant those young and old. The photography in the books is done by Ralaina Virostek, another name familiar to the Tilley farming community.
Ralaina is working on a website, ilovedirt.ca and a facebook page from which people can order books or by emailing hello@ilovedirt.ca.