School systems across North Carolina have had to adjust courses on the fly this year due to the coronavirus restrictions – and finding interesting materials conducive to online learning hasn’t been the easiest task.

Well, enter some help from an unexpected source, the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission, which has produced curriculum materials for schools and is now trying to get the word out to educators that the materials are available for the new school year.

On Friday, Aug. 28, CoCo Daughtry, the communications specialist for the commission, said that the programs are available for schools free of charge. Daughtry said the materials teach a variety of subjects including farming, culinary arts, math and English.

The K-12 curriculum course work was developed through a grant from the US Department of Agriculture in preparation for the “multi-formatted school year.”

The common core standard lessons are designed to educate students about different aspects of agriculture, and it also throws in a little about the importance of the sweet potato which is the North Carolina state vegetable. Students will learn about the “numerous health benefits of the orange superfood.”

The lesson plans also inform students about various aspects of agriculture using STEM-focused curriculum that was developed alongside North Carolina Ag in the Classroom in preparation for the “multi-formatted” school year that’s been radically altered by COVID-19 restrictions.

The classroom-ready lesson plans – created to meet common core standards as set forth by the US Department of Education – include online educational materials for students and have a focus on core subjects such as math, science and English.

Brent Leggett, North Carolina SweetPotato Commission board president, said that this should be easy to implement in schools and helpful for the students.

“Whether in-person or virtual, schools across the country will look very different this year,” he said “Our K-12 curriculum is classroom friendly and easy to implement in any learning environment. The materials were written by teachers, for teachers, in the hopes of helping students grow stronger in multiple subjects using North Carolina sweet potatoes as an educational topic and tool.”

Each lesson plan contains a book, activity guide and other materials that are customized for each grade level. They include pictographs, maps and a North Carolina Sweet potato Ag Map. Lesson plans include links to videos featuring sweet potatoes, posters depicting “A Year in the Life of a North Carolina Sweet Potato” – and there are also well as links to the story book and activity guide: “Digging for North Carolina Sweet potatoes.”

There’s also a section that focuses on family and consumer sciences (for students participating in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America program. The curriculum created for middle and high schoolers includes materials that supplement instruction in biology, nutrition, food labeling and marketing.