Arkansas rice farmers want to teach fourth-grade students a lesson.

The Arkansas Rice Council, which represents the state’s rice farmers, has created a workbook specifically for Arkansas fourth-grade students. The workbook contains exercises, questions and information designed to help fourth graders prepare for standardized benchmark examinations, scheduled for April 17-20.

About 37,000 fourth-grade students in nearly 500 Arkansas schools received copies of the workbook.

The workbook, titled “Arkansas Rice AWESOME,” has sections on language arts, math, and social studies. All the information in the workbook is based on rice farming and the rice industry in Arkansas. It was developed with input from a panel of Arkansas elementary school teachers.

“Education is extremely important to rice farmers and millers because so many in our industry have children,” explained Robert Petter, chairman of the Arkansas Rice Council and a farmer in Prairie County. “We also want to promote awareness and understanding of the rice industry. We hope that the students, teachers and parents will have a greater appreciation of the rice farming industry because of this project.”

The workbook contains the story of a fictional rice farmer, Harvey Halbrook, and relates how his farm helps support his family and fuels the local economy. By reading the workbook and doing the exercises, students will get a better understanding of rice farming and how it is integrated into our state’s culture and commerce. They also will sharpen their skills in preparation for benchmark examinations.

Arkansas is the nation’s leading rice producer with approximately 1.4 million acres planted each year. It is estimated that the rice industry contributes about $2.5 billion and 30,000 jobs to the state’s economy.