By Julie Tomascik

In a technology-driven society, many schools are looking for avenues to incorporate hands-on activities or outside learning opportunities. Texas Farm Bureau’s (TFB) Learning from the Ground Up program can help.

“Each student learns differently, but research shows hands-on activities help them better understand classroom concepts,” Whit Weems, TFB director of Organization, said. “Through this program, teachers and students can take classroom learning outside and dive deeper into science and agriculture.”

Students go outside, get their hands dirty and make connections from the garden to agriculture. They see how it applies to the food they eat, the clothes they wear and the fuel used in their family’s vehicles.

Through Learning from the Ground Up, teachers or administrators of a Texas public or private school can apply for a grant of up to $500.

Every year, three $500 grants are awarded in each of TFB’s 13 districts.

The program is open to schools across the state and offers grants to help establish or improve school gardens, greenhouses, raised beds or hydroponic and aquaponic projects that provide students with hands-on, experiential learning about agriculture and food production.

“We want teachers to take learning outside the classroom to provide students with real-world experiences,” Weems said. “Learning from the Ground Up is just one of several programs offered by Texas Farm Bureau to help with youth education.”

Hands-on learning in a garden, greenhouse, hydroponics or aquaponics facility can help students better understand situations that farmers and ranchers face.

“A plan has to be made regarding what crops will be planted or what fish they will raise,” Weems said. “Students and teachers have to care for the project throughout the year. That can include treating for weeds, applying fertilizer, watering the plants and harvesting the fruits and vegetables of their labor—just like farmers do at the end of a growing season.”

The program is a win-win, Weems said, for students and teachers.

“Through the process, they’re able to see what farmers and ranchers face while growing our food. They experience weather challenges, weeds, pests and more. Small-scale gardening and large-scale farming have several similarities, and Learning from the Ground Up helps students make that connection,” Weems said. “They’re not just learning about a theory or a process. Those students are actually getting outside and doing it.”

Applications can be submitted either by mail or email and should be received by Oct. 18.

Applications must include a timeline and detailed budget with estimated expenses. One grant application per school may be submitted each year, and students must be directly involved throughout the project. Grants are payable to the school or organization.

Program details and applications are available online at

If you have questions about the grant program, contact or call 254-399-5030.