Frequently Asked Questions

Mission & Vision

The Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1989.


Our mission is “to promote the understanding and importance of agriculture in our daily lives.”

Who is the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation (MAEF)?

MAEF is a non-governmental, non-profit 501c3 operating under the guidance of a 25 member Board of Directors. The Foundation was incorporated in 1989 following recommendations of a Governor’s task force reviewing the status of agriculture in education in Maryland

o The task force recommended establishing an independent organization whose purpose would be to educate Marylanders about the important role agriculture plays in their lives
o MAEF conducts a variety of educational and promotional programs throughout the state using agriculture, nutrition & natural resources as the tools for teaching core subjects, STEM and Next Generation Science.

Why is it important for Marylanders to know about agriculture or to be agriculturally literate?

As the nation moves away from an agrarian-oriented society to a manufacturing, technology and service oriented society, fewer people have the opportunity for first-hand experience with the production of food, fiber and other products upon which their lives depend for survival

It is important for both children and adults to be knowledgeable about agriculture for making informed decisions as consumers, citizens, voters, and leaders

  • About food & nutrition
  • About land use and natural resource management
  • About food safety
  • About environmental protection and stewardship
  • About agricultural economic development
  • About supporting activities that sustain the “working landscape” including profitability

How is MAEF Funded?

  • Grants
  • Individual
  • Contributions
  • Corporate sponsors
  • Ag Tag Revenues
  • Fundraiser Programs
  • Service Fees
  • Commodity Sponsors
  • Endowment Development

How does MAEF use the funds?

Ag in the Classroom Workshops – (AITC) – providing educators with the resources and teacher training necessary to use agriculture as a tool for teaching core areas of study such as language arts, math, science, social studies, geography, etc.

  • Teachers receive quality curricula and materials matching Maryland’s teaching standards
  • Programs are available for educating students k-12

Mobile Science Labs(s)
Primarily available to elementary schools throughout the state

  • Schools engage labs for week-long visits during which MAEF instructors lead students through hands-on scientific activities that teach about agricultural products, aquatics, conservation, and food & fiber
    Each of the three individually themed labs log 20-25 school visits annually. Themes are Ag Products, Aquatic, and Food, Fiber & You.
  • A 4th lab is exclusively in Montgomery County
  • Together in FY2018, the four labs total 101 school visits with 78,7800 student visits serving 19 Counties with the help of 353 volunteers.
  • Schools pay a fee of $1,800/week, roughly 40% of the cost of lab operations, with the balance of the costs underwritten by Ag Tag revenues and other contributions

Teacher Resources

  •  Take Me Out to the Cornfield, Maryland Agriculture Commodity Map, Digital Atlas of Maryland, Teachers’ Guide, Literature Links, Green Thumb Gem, Amazing! Maryland Agriculture, and many other lessons and resources
  • Ag in Ten Minutes – teacher tools posted on website and mimicking State testing
  • Ag Literacy – reading selected children’s books teaching about agriculture. This volunteer driven program reaches nearly 900 students every year
  • Website – the website posts resources for teachers including valuable links to other AITC programs

Elementary Education

Including annual AITC workshop, developing and managing the activities for the Mobile Science Labs, developing hands-on activities for the mobile Ag Showcase, working with Ag & commodity ambassadors, participating in regional and national professional development programs.

Middle School
Developing career connections for middle and high school students, providing teacher training for public, private and home school programs, working with environmental and natural resources programs, and providing training and direction for farm-based and informal educators. Chesapeake Food, Farm & the Bay provides 18 lessons for Farm Based Educator. Over 30 lessons are being developed and made available to Horse Discovery Centers in Maryland. MAEF is the official Leopold Project training entity in Maryland providing training about resource conservation.

High School/Post Secondary

Including supporting activities and conferences for Maryland agriculture educators, assisting the Maryland Agricultural Teachers Association (MATA), supervising state FFA, developing statewide informational profiles for school programs, Ag teachers in training, Ag sciences and articulations with post-secondary institutions. This program is having a positive influence for initiating and growing programs statewide.

Maryland Agriculture Showcase
A mobile unit exhibiting at fairs, festivals, field days and other public events promoting agriculture around the state. This mobile exhibit of Maryland agriculture features 12 informative and interactive displays and various hands-on activities for children. The showcase is staffed by MAEF trained attendants.

Ag on the Move
This tabletop exhibit featuring hands on activities is available for events too small for the showcase or when the showcase is unavailable

Maryland FFA Association 

The Maryland FFA (a national youth development organization) executive director directs the training and growth of the FFA State Officer program and coordinates a variety of career development events, leadership workshops and state and national convention participation for more than 2,400 student members from school-based chapters throughout the state. The program coordinator supports the events and financial management of the Maryland FFA Association. Both the executive director and the coordinator are employed by MAEF, an expense underwritten in part by a $40,000 grant from the State department of Education.

Grants Received

MAEF receives grants that support specific programs and help underwrite the costs associated with expanding programming and outreach.

o Rural Maryland Council – $10K
o Farm Credit Foundation for Excellence in Agriculture – $10K
o MD State department of Education – $40K supporting FFA executive
o Edward B. Byrd Charitable Foundation – $50K
o MD Fair Board – $3K
o MD Racing Fund – $70.8K
o Colonial Farm Credit Foundation – $3K

Grants & Scholarships Awarded

MAEF awards grants supporting Urban Garden Programs, Teacher Mentoring, LEAD Maryland, MD Envirothon, MD FFA Foundation, MAEOE, Future Harvest, Maryland Farm & Harvest and organizations who share MAEF’s mission and outreach efforts. Scholarships are awarded from the Seibel Scholarship fund and funds raised through the annual golf fundraiser.

  • MAEF funds are often leveraged to expand the value and benefit of the donor’s contributions supporting programs and outreach

How has MAEF expanded its programming?

Middle School and High School Ag in the Classroom – Biotechnology, science and technology, Integrative teacher training workshops for formal and non-formal educators, supporting MD Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, supporting MD Envirothon, supporting Maryland Farm to School, statewide program consulting, and expanded teacher training

Maryland Farm to School – supporting the statewide Farm to School program development and teacher resources

“Career Connections” in Agriculture – distributed to teachers, guidance counselors and students to increase awareness of agricultural career opportunities and to direct students toward proper training and education for careers in the agricultural industry

Agriculture Returns to the City – focuses on urban areas throughout the state. This successful program has reached teachers in over 62 schools in Baltimore and over 40,000 students. This program is underwritten completely with Ag Tag revenues.

How many Maryland citizens are you reaching with your educational programs?

Since MAEF’s inception, we have reached well over 985,000 Marylanders with our message of agricultural literacy. In 1990, the only program conducted was a teacher workshop. The mobile science lab program was added in 1995 with an aquatics classroom. A second lab was added in 1997 focusing on Maryland agriculture products and a third in 2000 with the biotechnology lab. In 2003, the Maryland Agriculture Showcase was added to our fleet of mobile classrooms, expanding into the arena of public education. MAEF is currently reaching over 178,000 citizens annually.

How many Maryland “Ag Tags” have been sold since its availability in July 2001?

From July 2001 to March 2013 over $6,245,000 has been raised to support MAEF programming. This income appears to be generous at first, but only a small portion of the initiatives needed to accomplish the long-term mission is funded through the Ag Tag.

With nearly 1 million students in kindergarten through grade 12 and another 4.8 million residents in the state, MAEF needs to expand its educational and promotional programs significantly to accomplish its mission of agricultural literacy and awareness.