At a Glance

Why did George Washington start gathering national data on agriculture?

National Agricultural Statistics Service

According to the service website, "The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture. Production and supplies of food and fiber, prices paid and received by farmers, farm labor and wages, farm finances, chemical use, and changes in the demographics of U.S. producers are only a few examples."

Helping students to conceptualize history is a goal (and a difficulty) for many teachers. How can what's past be presented in a manner that feels relevant to students? If you live in a somewhat rural area, NASS's charts and maps may provide a great point of comparison between the local past and the present. Say you are studying cotton production in the south. Why not find information on how much cotton we still produce? If you're from another part of the country, consider seeing how much corn your vicinity harvests today. You can select topics such as specific livestock or crops.

Also, be sure to check out the available multidisciplinary lesson plans. The K-3 option includes a reading on Washington and the first agricultural survey, as well as an activity involving counting, while the 9-12 activities include short excerpts of Washington's words. Subject emphases vary. Don't miss the glossary of terms.