Rice Farming

‘Arkansas Rice– Awesome!’

Arkansas Rice Council’s educational workbook
is a big hit


By Carroll Smith

The Arkansas Rice Council (ARC) is all about promotion and education, and they have many successful projects to show for it. From an Information Packet to an educational workbook to billboards and more, they are spreading the word about U.S. rice, as well as what rice means to the state of Arkansas.

One of the projects that has garnered a lot of positive feedback is an educational workbook for fourth-graders titled “Arkansas Rice – Awesome!” The primary goal of the workbook, which is in its fifth printing, is to prepare students for the Arkansas Benchmark Exam. This test is based on the Arkansas state standards, which define what students should be learning each year in language arts, mathematics and social studies.

In the introduction to the booklet, the Arkansas Rice Council notes, “All of the information is based on the Arkansas rice industry, so the students also will learn something about one of Arkansas’ most important farm products.”

Free workbooks provided to schools
Using fictitious characters, the workbook begins with a real story about an Arkansas rice operation. Harvey Halbrook is a producer who farms 1,500 acres of rice. Bob Duncan is his banker, and Joe Taylor is a full-time employee on Halbrook’s farm.

After reading the story, the students answer multiple choice questions and complete other exercises that require them to write in complete sentences. Following is an example of one of the questions in the mathematics section: One of Mr. Halbrook’s big trucks can haul 45,000 pounds of rice per load. His grain bins can hold up to 10,000 bushels. Which fraction below represents the amount of grain each truck can carry compared to the grain bins? A. 1/2, B. 1/10, C. 1/5, D. 1/4.

In the social studies section, the students are told that rice grown in Arkansas is often shipped on river barges to New Orleans and then to markets all over the world. What two rivers are used to transport rice from Arkansas to New Orleans? A. Arkansas River & Louisiana River, B. Mississippi River & Tennessee River, C. White River & Ohio River, D. Arkansas River & Mississippi River.

The workbook also contains information about Arkansas rice around the world, discussion questions and even a yummy Marshmallow Rice Squares recipe.

Robert Petter, Jr., president of the Arkansas Rice Council board of directors, says, “We began distributing ‘Arkansas Rice – Awesome!’ in eastern Arkansas in rice-farming areas and had great success with that effort. Now we distribute it statewide to public and private schools at no cost to the schools, the teachers, the students or the parents. We’ve received great comments on the booklet not just from the teachers and students, but from our governors as well.”

  Because the educational booklet has been so well received in Arkansas schools, the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board has created its own version of the workbook titled “Louisiana Rice – Awesome!”

Other ARC promotional projects
In addition to the workbook for fourth-graders, the ARC has produced an Information Packet that covers who, what, when and where in the rice industry along with Arkansas-specific topics. It is provided as a resource for anyone in an influential position at the county, state and national level, including newspapers, who is looking for information or contacts regarding rice.

The organization also has created a rice billboard campaign and produced radio spots in which former Governor Huckabee and current Governor Beebe promote rice. In addition, the ARC’s trade show booth and personnel get the word out about rice via county fairs, state fairs, commodity programs and educational conferences.

“We’ve retained some of the check-off funds back home to let our growers see and hear how some of their own dollars are at work promoting rice,” Petter says. “Even in Arkansas, many people are not aware of the important role that the rice industry plays in our economy.”

Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020 or csmith@onegrower.com.