The future of the agriculture industry depends on the next generation finding a passion for this industry. One way to reach those students is to first reach their teachers. Over 30 science teachers from across the country participated in the first Nourish the Future: Feeding and Fueling the World, a workshop sponsored by National Corn Growers Association.
Using supplies mailed to them ahead of time, this group engaged in a variety of lessons to understand more about the science of food production and sustainable fuels. When students learn about the productivity of the industry and its opportunities, it increases the interest in agriculture careers.
Robyn Allscheid, NCGA Director of Research and Productivity, talked about NCGA’s support for education and how she got involved in this career.
“We’d like to help students become aware of all the careers related to agriculture,” Allscheid said. “Helping students see what opportunities are out there in agriculture is important to bringing on the next generation of scientists and researchers.”
Randy DeSutter, a farmer from western Illinois, serves as the chairman of the Sustainable Ag Research Action Team (SARAT) for NCGA. He praised the teachers for their enthusiasm for learning, as evidenced by their participation in the workshop. DeSutter spoke of the need for students to further science in agriculture.
“I have seen yields double in the past 40 years that I’ve been farming because of research and technology,” he said. “And advancements in science and technology are important and necessary to continue moving our industry forward.”
Christine Girtain presented along with educationprojects.org‘s Heather Bryan and Jane Hunt. Girtain is currently serving as a Nourish the Future (NTF) teacher leader coach, using her educational expertise to benefit the NTF program. The presentation team led activities from each curriculum area on the NTF website. Amy Aspenwall, another NTF teacher leader coach, provided on-site support.
The focus of the workshop was on the role of science in increasing yield for food and fuel and stewarding the environment. “All of these lessons frame up why farmers are using current practices to produce a good crop — everybody eats!” Bryan said.
Participants were very engaged and involved in the activities and added their own resources and tips. After discussing the soil and water labs, Patricia Arnold from Texas said, “I wish I would have had these resources in December for my AP Environmental Science class. That was when we covered U5 Land and Water Use. I will definitely use these next year!”