Teaching Ideas for Agriculture Education
Whether you teach agriculture technology, CTE, or culinary arts, teaching students about something as fundamental as agriculture is essential! I am sure you would agree that food production and how we get the foods that we do, is a life skill that everyone should understand. When we think about our daily lives, agriculture might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Let’s take a look at some agricultural activities for your students.
Yet, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of teaching high school students about agriculture. By giving them insights into this field, we empower them to understand the significance of agriculture in our society, environment, economy, and even their own well-being.
Did you know that The BLS projects that employment in agricultural and food science occupations will grow by 6% from 2020 to 2030, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations? Agricultural education students have the advantage of learning about different careers in the field which are not often mainstream. Careers in animal science, food science, plant science, farming, and many more can be taught in a career and tech. setting.
Agricultural Activities Ideas
Oftentimes, engaging in agricultural activities can be the key to student success. Most teens thrive from hands-on learning and CTE classes are some of the best places for that! Offering educational activities that include projects and engaging lesson plans can help students understand and appreciate the importance of agriculture in the United States and the world. Here are a few activities you can try with your students:
1- Food Science Bell Ringer Journal– If you are teaching food science, this bell ringer journal will have you covered for an entire semester! Each day, students answer a question related to food science to get them thinking about the topic. It comes in a print PDF version as well as a Google Slides version. It includes questions about statistics, quotes, fun facts about food, career exploration, the agriculture industry, human health, and more! You can give students a point a day when you collect them to grade periodically to hold them accountable to the routine. If done correctly, these can really help you structure your class and establish a routine that minimizes classroom behaviors as class starts.
Moreover, agriculture isn’t just about tilling the land; it offers a vast array of exciting career paths. By introducing high school students to agriculture, we expose them to diverse options like farming, agricultural engineering, agronomy, food science, and agricultural economics. Through exploration, they can discover their passions and make informed decisions about their future careers. Moreover, with the increasing demand for skilled professionals in the agricultural sector, teaching about agriculture opens doors to promising job opportunities.
2- Agricultural Education Lesson Plan– this lesson includes PowerPoint presentation slideshows, guided notes, questions for students, and activity sheets such as task cards about sustainable agriculture. You’ll be able to use these engaging resources for years to introduce agriculture. This classic agriculture lesson is a great reference point for students when you assess them on the basics.
Get them Actively Involved.
3- Hands-on Activities: Organize field trips to local farms, agricultural research centers, and colleges. Students can experience firsthand the different aspects of farming, such as planting, harvesting, animal care, and machinery operation. It provides them a direct connection to the agricultural industry and fosters a deeper understanding of the processes involved. You can also do a virtual field trip if actually going somewhere is too much to take on. Some of these have field trips right on the websites such as the first one about a dairy farm, and the other has agriculture teachers registered for live events. Here are a few great agricultural activities resources for finding virtual field trips:
4- School Gardens: Establish a school garden where students can actively participate in planting, maintaining, and harvesting crops. It offers a practical learning experience and allows students to see the entire agricultural cycle from seed to plate. They can learn about soil health, plant biology, pest management, and sustainable gardening practices. This is great for any grade level as you can decide what types of plants students can handle. Nothing is better than cooking something delicious with the final product. Chris had done this for a while at his school, but his biggest challenge was school breaks and the garden not getting watered. You might need to either come in on breaks or have someone go and water the garden for you during vacations.
5- Students’ Research Project: As the American Farm Bureau Foundation describes, you can have students research career paths in local farming industries. They can then create a Google Slides presentation and present the information to the class. Students that observe can take notes during their classmates’ presentations. This improves students’ agricultural literacy because they are becoming an expert in one field and learning about others from their peers. Check out the website for additional agricultural activities for K-12 students.
Try Something New!
6- Book Club– Change things up and read a book with your students about the unfortunate cruelty that can be found in animal farming. You can do the audible version and listen with students while they answer questions or read to them! “Mercy For Animals: One Man’s Quest to Inspire Compassion and Improve the Lives of Farm Animals” is a memoir by Nathan Runkle, the founder and president of the animal rights organization Mercy For Animals (MFA). In this book, Runkle shares his journey and the experiences that led him to advocate for animal welfare.
The book explores Runkle’s upbringing on a farm in Ohio and his deep connection with animals from a young age. It delved into the pivotal moment when he witnessed animal cruelty at a county fair, which sparked his passion for creating positive change in the treatment of farm animals. Runkle then details his efforts in founding Mercy For Animals and the organization’s mission to expose and combat the inhumane practices within the factory farming industry. Additionally, he recounts the undercover investigations by MFA to document animal abuse and the subsequent campaigns and legal initiatives to raise awareness and promote compassionate choices.
7- Guest Speakers: Invite guest speakers from various sectors of the agricultural industry, such as farmers from family farms, agricultural scientists, food processors from the local community, or agricultural business owners. This a great way to show students real-world agriculture workers so they can better understand their roles and the important role agriculture plays in our lives. The guests can share their experiences, knowledge, and career paths with the students, giving them real-world insights into the different facets of agriculture.
Teach Healthy Alternatives
8- Plant-Based Foods Lesson: This downloadable resource has everything you need to teach about plant-based, vegan eating. It includes a slideshow presentation with video clips, guided notes, questions, and a create-your-own plant-based dish project. If it’s possible, students would love to create the dish in class or at home, and that would provide excellent hands-on experience! To take it further, you can take them to the local farmers market and/or the grocery store to buy fresh ingredients to make their dish! Our high-quality resources and classroom activities will keep your students engaged and learning essential material.
In a world where it’s easy to take our food for granted and disconnect from the sources of our sustenance, teaching high school students about agriculture takes on a whole new level of importance. Agriculture education opens their eyes to the fascinating and essential world of food production, nurturing a deep appreciation for the daily hard work, innovation, and challenges that farmers face.
Why Teach Agricultural Activities and Practices?
By immersing students in agricultural activities, we empower them with knowledge and skills that extend far beyond the classroom. They gain a profound understanding of where their food comes from, the significance of sustainable farming practices, and the impact of agriculture on their communities and the planet.
One of the key benefits of teaching high school students about agriculture is its exposure to a wide range of career opportunities. Agriculture is more than just working in the fields; it encompasses fields like agricultural engineering, agronomy, food science, agricultural economics, and much more. By showcasing these diverse career paths, we allow students to explore their interests, discover their passions, and make informed decisions about their future.
But agriculture education goes beyond career prospects. It fosters a sense of environmental awareness and responsibility in students. They learn about the delicate balance between agricultural practices and the natural world, understanding the impact of farming on soil health, water quality, and biodiversity. Armed with this knowledge, they become advocates for sustainable farming methods, conservation practices, and preserving our precious ecosystems.
Teaching Agriculture for a Healthier Future
Furthermore, teaching high school students about agricultural activities promotes a healthier and more conscious approach to food and nutrition. They learn about the nutritional value of different crops, the benefits of balanced diets, and the potential consequences of agricultural practices on food quality. Armed with this understanding, students can make informed choices about their diet, better understand the food system, and actively contribute to their own well-being.
Agriculture education also sheds light on the economic significance of this vital sector. Students gain insights into the economic factors that influence agriculture, such as supply and demand dynamics, international trade policies, and the role of government support. This understanding helps them appreciate the interconnectedness of agriculture with the broader economy and highlights the importance of supporting local farmers and rural communities.
In conclusion, teaching high school students about agriculture is an investment in their future and the future of our planet. It equips them with knowledge, skills, and perspectives crucial for making informed decisions, becoming responsible global citizens, and actively building a sustainable and resilient world. By fostering a deep connection to the land, the environment, and the food we eat, we empower the next generation to nurture our planet, support our farmers, and ensure a brighter future for all.