John Block, the Secretary of Agriculture for U. S. D. A, planted the seed for Agriculture in the Classroom programs across the nation. Here in Massachusetts, Commissioner of Agriculture Frederick Winthrop called a meeting of representatives from fifteen of the state’s agriculture and education related organizations in the spring of 1982, to discuss the idea of creating an Agriculture in the Classroom program for Massachusetts.
Believing that this new organization would fill a void in education, a committee was formally established that summer, chaired by State 4-H Leader John Sterling. Together they developed a model whereby MAC would work with teachers to incorporate agricultural concepts into the existing classroom instruction. This integration was formalized in the fall of 1982 when Commissioner Winthrop sought and received an endorsement from Commissioner of Education John Lawson, who delegated representatives to serve on MAC’s committee.
A Declaration of Principles
With the partnership between the departments of agriculture and education established, the committee moved to the creation of lesson plans that teachers could use to integrate agriculture into their classrooms. Dr. Barbara Garner Koech of UMass Amherst was hired in 1983 to develop curriculum.
Later that same year, Governor Michael Dukakis signed a "Declaration of Principles" for "Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom", officially establishing the organization as an entity in the Commonwealth. In 1984, the U. S. D. A. made "Agriculture in the Classroom" a permanent program of their agency.
Throughout the 1980s MAC worked to develop instructional units for teachers to use in their classrooms and offered summer institutes for teachers. Through the 1990s and continuing today, MAC expanded program offerings and outreach to educators.
MAC in the 21st Century
Today, MAC annually provides resources and professional development training for thousands of educators across the Commonwealth. Each year MAC holds several popular programs including an annual conference, workshops on the farm, mini-grants, SAGE, a teacher mentor cohort and more.
In 2015, MAC's President, Marjorie Cooper retired from service and currently serves as President Emeritus on the Board. Ms. Cooper has been involved since 1982. She was one of the founding members.
In April of 2015, Debi Hogan retired as Executive Director after celebrating 25 years with MAC as educational consultant and executive director. Kaisa Holloway Cripps joined MAC as Executive Director in May-August 2015. Since 2015, MAC is led by the Board of Directors.