Advocating for Sustainable Agriculture in Grades K-12

Final Report for YENC13-062

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2013: $2,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Manager:
Stephanie Jolliff
Ridgemont FFA
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Project Information


The Advocating for Sustainable Agriculture in Grades K-12 project empowered 80 Ridgemont FFA members to link Common Core Academic Standards to Agricultural Concepts in tandem with The Ohio State University, Agricultural Engineering Department and many additional community and global partners.

Ridgemont FFA’s new Sustainable STEM Ag Enrichment Programs fueled student curiosity about agriculture as students participated in production, robotics and environmental education through hands-on, minds-on programs with industry and post secondary partners.

The programs were multifaceted. The programs achieved the following outcomes:

Summer STEM Sustainable Ag Days

  • Connected 38 FFA members with 9 industry specialists to design two 8-hour programs packed full of projects and activities that required teamwork and cooperative learning from February to July.
  • Funded 2 free STEM Sustainable Ag Summer Programs for 60 youth, ages 9-18.
  • Leveraged connections with 2 robotic specialists to teach 30 youth agriculture applications about technology and robotics during an 8-hour program in June.
  • Collaborated with 3 specialists to create an integrated field excursion for 30 students in local streams to experience environmental education. During the experience students learned with 1 inquiry-based lab then got to stream shock fish during an 8-hour program in July.
  • Energized students' curiosity about agricultural careers and renewed their passion for learning about Sustainable STEM Agricultural Education.
  • Project-based activities provided students benefits in career exploration as they built robots, constructed water filtration systems, collected fish samples by electro shocking the stream and engaged in hands-on, minds-on lessons.
  • Results from the participant’s pre/post assessments verified student awareness of ag careers, which rose by 48% and their interest in pursuing an agricultural career increased by 36%. Students rated programs a 4.75 out of 5 on overall experience.
  • OSU professors presented research on water quality that the students replicated in the stream by building filtration systems and stream shocking machines. Robotic specialists assisted students in building operational Lego Mindstorm robots that mimicked the tasks of robotic applications in the automation of agriculture. Related to QS: STEM Ag Enrichment promoted agricultural careers to students and heightened their awareness of opportunities in ag careers related to STEM through experiential learning with industry specialists.

Yearlong Sustainable STEM Agricultural Education Programming for grades K-8

  • Educated community members on locally produced ag commodities and explained the connection local production has in the global market place. Many are not aware of the impact locally grown food has on a global scale, which is the reason for this program.
  • FFA members’ knowledge was expanded by bringing 2 local farmers into the ag classroom to teach about the commodities produced in our county and marketed globally.
  • In September, FFA members gained a deeper understanding of sustainable ag production by harvesting 5 acres of potatoes with 15 members and 3 local farmers. Students used that experience to create educational materials to teach the public about farm-to-table and connect ag production to the global impact.
  • In October, at a home football game, hosted a farm-to-plate global tailgate for 150 community members with food produced locally and 1 farmer who talked about how pork is produced locally and consumed globally.
  • In March, connected local and global food security and sustainable agriculture with the World Water Day, in the ag room, then had 85 FFA members post onto social media with 80 tweets & 75 other social media posts with #YouthInAgSelfie.
  • FFA members dug deep into first-hand production knowledge so they could communicate effectively and teach consumers about their connection with ag and understand sustainable production practices locally and globally.
  • Students were well prepared to educate consumers about how food is locally grown and globally marketed because they spoke directly with local farmers, harvested food on the farm and comprehended how locally grown products are marketed globally. The knowledge students shared on ag promotions directly affected the community by empowering them to make informed food decisions and understand the impact of local agriculture on the global community.
  • FFA members turned their first-hand agricultural production knowledge from 7 farmers, harvesting 5 acres of potatoes, and a farm-to-fork tailgate party into ag promotional materials shared with a local and global community by feeding more than 150 people at a tailgate and unloading more than 200 social media posts.


Agricultural Education Classroom Lessons

  • Educated 80 high school students on STEM Common Core indicators tied to sustainable agriculture.
  • Empowered these students to teach more than 2 hours each at the elementary and junior high buildings to education others about sustainability within agriculture.
  • These youth spoke to three organizations in the community to educate the community about recycling and it’s applications to daily life.
  • Throughout this project tallied the total hours of service and achieved aim of more than 1,500 hours of service, which is equivalent to $32,025 of service back to the community (this calculation is based upon Independent Sector – This would yield a $16.02 return per dollar of money granted to our SARE project.
  • Through social media we provided exposure of sustainable agriculture to our over 750 followers on Facebook and nearly 600 on our Twitter feed, as well as, to our more than 300 electronically newsletter subscribers.

Sustainable Urban Ag Day Programs

  • Teach K-6 students about food cultivation, processing and distribution by providing programming on farms and in schools.
  • Engaged 100% of FFA members in designing lessons for 3 one-day events to educate the public about agriculture, food and natural resources; members conducted sessions in May, September and October.
  • In May, designed and conducted a 7-hour program with 15 educational stations for 100% of Ridgemont elementary students to learn about how they can engage in urban agricultural production.
  • In July, networked with VanScoy Hydroponic farms and New Albany Farmers Market to demonstrate production techniques for 75 urbanites and engage them in 5 hands-on stations that allowed them to harvest crops and handle animals in September.
  • In September, 100% of FFA members created a program to deliver 28 hands-on stations about food and fiber production. This event occurred on Ledley's dairy farm in October for 100% of Ridgemont third graders.
  • Offered three distinct educational options which allowed our FFA members to teach diverse populations of all ages, through hands-on opportunities to connect with ag and understand production practices.
  • Hosted 3 one-day Urban Ag Day Programs on farms and in school to engage  consumers in learning more about their food, fiber and biofuel production. This knowledge affected the community by empowering them to make informed food decisions and provided the knowledge for them to grow their own food in urban areas.
  • More than 50 ag stations were designed by 100% of FFA members for 3 one-day events that educated 100% of Ridgemont elementary students at the elementary school, 100% of third graders at a local dairy farm, as well as 125 urbanites at a hydroponic greenhouse.


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  • Mark Light
  • Jon Witter
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.