As sustainability becomes a more critical component to agriculture’s supply chain, there is a growing need to equip teachers with real-world knowledge and applications for educating students in sustainable agriculture. And with ever-changing approaches, it’s important to provide reliable strategies and information based in science.
Valent U.S.A. has partnered with National FFA to provide teachers across the United States with leading sustainability information and practices through a first-of-its-kind “Sustainability in Agriculture Lesson Series” that can be used both in-classroom and within distance learning environments.
Available as a free resource through FFA’s educator resources platform, the eight-lesson teacher-led series enables middle and high school students to become familiar with sustainable agriculture standards, explore different sustainability processes and practices, learn about emerging trends in the food value chain, and prepare them to be educated agricultural leaders and consumers of tomorrow.
A NEED FOR ANSWERS
The lesson series was inspired by a need from agriculture educators. Teachers wanting to engage students in learning about sustainability had to conduct their own research and create lesson plans from the ground up, sometimes without the insight into how these learnings would best apply to current industry needs.
“Teachers right now need innovation, technology and sustainability at the forefront of their lessons,” said Megan McGrady, senior education consultant in FFA’s programs and events division. “As future growers and consumers, students need to know how it applies to the industry and primes them to potentially work in sustainability in the future. This lesson plan series gives teachers the tools to talk about sustainability and what it means for the future of agriculture.”
REAL-WORLD SCIENCE MEETS THE CLASSROOM
As a leader in both traditional chemical and biorational crop protection and enhancement products, Valent has extensive sustainability know-how as well as a commitment to support the next generation. The company has had a long-standing partnership with the FFA for more than 20 years, which drove them to approach the organization with the opportunity for the innovative lesson series.
“We are proud of our nearly 20 year partnership with National FFA and our shared goal to cultivate bright, innovative leaders in agriculture,” said Matt Plitt, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Valent U.S.A. “We’re excited about this latest collaboration to equip teachers with the tools they need to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities in sustainable agriculture.
CO-CREATED LESSON PLANS
To create the lesson series, a cross-functional team from Valent worked with FFA to outline the lessons and specific activities. The team applied Valent’s experience in sustainability throughout to give teachers and students real-world insight to how sustainability is put in action.
FFA and Valent created eight lessons, ranging from “what is sustainable agriculture” to delivering a product consumers demand. Students conclude the lesson series by developing their own sustainable product, a trail mix.
“The kids get excited when they can get up and move around – and eat!” said McGrady.
After completing the activities, students can identify the characteristics of sustainable agriculture, give examples of sustainable agriculture practices and apply the concepts of sustainable agriculture to the development of a product.
Before launch, FFA’s teacher ambassador program reviewed the curriculum to ensure it met the needs of teachers. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The ambassadors found it to be a timely, important topic that made connections to other topics they taught. Additionally, the curriculum was adjusted to fit feedback from suburban and urban teachers to resonate with students from varied backgrounds.
To date, the lesson plan series has had almost 4,000 interactions online and is expected to be a popular resource for the upcoming fall semester as teachers develop their curriculum for either online or in-class settings.
IMPACTING THE NEXT GENERATION
While agriculture teachers are looked to pass down time-honored skills, it certainly is not a job stuck in the past. Modern sustainability conversations are more important than ever – not just for the future of agriculture, but for the future of our global society. Valent is honored to share a science-based view on sustainable agriculture and help build strong, highly-skilled leaders to shape the future of the industry.