Ag alliance donates book bundle to Triton Schools

DODGE CENTER, Minn. ----- Parallel parking practice led to a book bundle donation for Triton Schools.

Members of Joan Hagen's Triton third grade.

DODGE CENTER, Minn. ----- Parallel parking practice led to a book bundle donation for Triton Schools.

Morgan Hagen, the daughter of Triton third grade teacher Joan Hagen, was practicing her parallel parking at the farm of her friend, Megan O'Connor. Megan's father, Jim O'Connor, and Morgan's mother got to talking about books.

O'Connor, a Blooming Prairie farmer and agribusiness owner, is a member of the Southeast Minnesota Ag Alliance. One of the group's priorities is placing agriculture book bundles in southeast Minnesota school libraries.

O'Connor happened to have one Ag Literacy Children's Literature Book Bundle on hand waiting for a school home. Hagen looked through the 22 different titles and was surprised to find "Tops and Bottoms," one of the books from their reading series.

O'Connor had found a home for the book bundle, a project of the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom program.


Hagen told him the books are a beautiful donation, yet if he wanted her students to remember the presentation he would need to bring food.

Bring food he did.

On Feb. 9, O'Connor and Krystal Klemmensen, a second year student at Riverland Community College, started their agricultural education presentation by reading the title of each book and giving it to a student to page through.

Klemmensen then cut and peeled an apple to show students how much of the earth's surface is used for growing crops.

Next, they tested the students' knowledge of agriculture by giving each of them a tortilla and asking what it was made from. They repeated the test with tomato sauce and cheese. Last to come was the pepperoni.

As Hagen read "Extra Cheese Please," one of the books from the bundle, O'Connor warmed the pizzas on a griddle until the cheese was bubbling and melting. Klemmensen sliced the pizzas into four pieces just the right size for finger food.

The presentation launched their science unit on the structures of life, Hagen said. The books will stay in her classroom before moving to the other three Triton third grade classrooms. After they've moved through the third grade, the books will be placed in the library where all elementary students will be able to check them out.

Hagen said the genre of the books in the bundle attract a lot of kids and several meet a state standard for nonfiction reading. The bundle includes both fiction and nonfiction books.


"You can never have too many books," she said.

O'Connor said this was the seventh book bundle the Southeast Minnesota Ag Alliance has paid for and placed in a school. Other bundles were placed in Blooming Prairie, Plainview, Stewartville, Pine Island, Plainview and Lewiston.

The ultimate goal of the presentation and the book bundle is to make a connection between the students and agriculture, O'Connor said. Most students don't come from a farm or have a farm background, he said. There may be one student in a classroom who comes from a farm.

He hopes the students share what they learned about agriculture through the presentation and the books with their parents and grandparents.

Which book does O'Connor like best?

"I like them all," he said. "They're correct."

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