Announcing Our New USDA NIFA-Funded AgEd & Advocacy Program

August 8, 2022 (Chicago, IL)Pilot Light today announced a new initiative, called AgEd & Advocacy, that will provide 6th-8th grade Chicago teachers with classroom activities, resources, and professional development to support the delivery of a research-based agriculture education program in their classrooms. The program will also feature a Youth Peer Leader Training to support local food advocacy projects that honor student voice and build leadership. It will also support the expansion of meaningful volunteer service opportunities for local community members to act as advisors to student advocacy groups and help them execute their food advocacy projects. 

This initiative is supported by a grant from the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which supports programs intended to increase knowledge of agriculture and improve the nutritional health of low-income youth, and to foster higher levels of community engagement between farms and school systems, while developing leadership skills for K-12 students to prepare the next generation for agricultural and related careers.

This grant from NIFA, which provides $169,878 to Pilot Light over two years, will build off of the USDA’s Farm to School program’s investment in the creation of Pilot Light’s agricultural education resources through a 2021 Turnkey Grant. Those resources include lessons and videos that align to Pilot Light’s own Food Education Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and to Common Core Standards. Pilot Light was one of only 12 grantees awarded nationally.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to launch Pilot Light’s AgEd & Advocacy Program with the trust and support of NIFA to further teacher leadership opportunities and expand students’ access to food education.” said Eileen Torpy, Director of the School and District Partnerships and the initiative’s primary investigator. “Now more than ever, it’s critical that educators and young people have meaningful opportunities to engage in dialogue and action around agriculture, the environment, and their role in the food system. ”


Pilot Light is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that partners with teachers to support students as they learn and advocate for informed choices by bridging the lessons they learn in their classrooms to the foods on their lunch trays, at home, and in their communities. Learn more about Pilot Light at



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