Advocating for Sustainable Agriculture in Grades K-12
Below is a summary of the main projects we have completed through this grant cycle:
Summer STEM Agriculture Enrichment Programs
The Career Skills Committee meets monthly in person and/or virtually from February to July to design the new STEM programs with: Food, Ag and Biological Engineering (FABE) at The Ohio State University (OSU); Hardin County OSU Extension Educators; Ridgedale Robotics Club Advisors; Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS); and school administration. Partnerships with industry specialists implement networks to foster the design of STEM programs at Ridgemont High School. In January, the Career Skills Committee writes the USDA and Hardin County Foundation grants with OSU FABE. In March, we receive notice of $3,500 in grants to implement STEM programs at Ridgemont High School. On June 25, the Career Skills Committee registers 45 youth to build, reconfigure and program LEGO Mindstorm Robotics at Ridgemont High School. FFA members alongside OSU Extension, Ridgedale Robotics Club and Ridgemont educators teach and implement the program on the applications of technology and robotics to agriculture. On July 16, the Career Skills Committee registers 42 youth to conduct stream assessments focusing on sampling techniques used to conduct quantitative studies of two-stage ditch design. FABE at OSU, NRCS, OSU Extension and FFA members use laser levels to: measure stream depths, take soil core samples, test soil, teach conservation practices, demonstrate runoff and explain algal blooms to implement environmental education during the program on Ridgemont’s campus. Results from the participant’s pre/post assessments verified student awareness of ag careers rose by 48% and their interest in pursuing an ag career increased by 36%. Students rated programs a 4.75 out of 5 on overall experience.
Agricultural Advocates: Train the Trainer
December 9, 5 FFA members receive Conversation with EASE Training by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) in Columbus to teach better communication with consumers about food in a positive manner. On February 19 and March 11, the 5 FFA EASE trained members host round table discussions in the ag room with 100% of FFA members to expose strategies with speaking activities and learning several specific steps to making a constructive atmosphere. Food discussions occur at 6 statewide events with more than 1,800 consumers speaking with 26 FFA members: July 29, 2 FFA members testify at Ohio House and Senate ag committee hearing; July 29, 6 members demonstrate soy products at the Ohio State Fair; September 19, 2 members present at Allen County Health Symposium; November 11, 6 members exhibit at the Ohio School Board Association Student Achievement Fair; November 21, 3 members speak at the Ohio Farm to School Conference; February 11, 4 members participate in the OSU Farm to Fork Dialogues; and March 15, 3 members talk at the Ohio Action for Healthy Kids Conference. September 3, 10 FFA members assist in the Commodity Classic educational booth at the Hardin County Fair. September 4, 5 members present Farm to Fork, Closer than you Think at the Hardin County Fair Community Building.
Ag Literacy with Pinterest
On November 13, the Public Relations Committee meets in the ag room to create the Ridgemont FFA Pinterest account as a tool for our chapter to advocate for agriculture. Over the next four months, the committee and officers pin over 55 boards relating to food production, agricultural history and FFA. Between the months of November and March, the committee pins over 700 agricultural and FFA pins, as well as follows over 650 other pinners to help advocate and share new ideas and concepts. Many of the ideas members pin on our page are being incorporated into our service-learning projects to make them stronger. The committee learns about online marketing and the value of analytics by measuring Engagement Rating on the app Tailwind. January 15, while in their agricultural education class, all freshmen and sophomores learn strategies to research more efficiently, find credible ideas for agriculture and distinguish between valid and invalid sources on the Internet. FFA members’ knowledge of online advocacy through high quality research to find reliable sources of agricultural information increases by 53%, based on a pre and post assessment. During the month of January, 100% of freshmen and sophomores create their own Pinterest accounts and advocate with more than 20 agricultural pins. The chapter and students’ pins relate to their ag research projects, FFA service-learning projects and food production because informed citizens are able to participate in establishing the policies that support the ag industry.
Let Them Eat Cookies – Agricultural Global Resources Project
February 5, the Economic Development Committee meets in the ag room to create lessons and pre and post assessments for junior FFA members with curricula from Facing the Future to learn about global sustainability and inspire the next generation of student leaders to understand human economics and social activities. On February 21, the Economic Development Committee confirms our FFA will teach 400 urban elementary students at SGAD on OSU’s campus. April 4, the junior FFA members design an elementary lesson for SGAD to demonstrate the difference in global population and GNI. Global population divides with: Europe 12%, Latin America 9%, North America 5%, Africa 13% and Asia 61%, while the per capita GNI divides: Europe 27%, L.A. 8%, N.A. 25%, Africa 4% and Asia 36%. The lesson starts every student in all groups with 1 cookie on the plate, which they do not eat, it represents population. In the second simulation student’s cookie distribution, that they can eat, calculates GNI. For example, Africa ends up with approximately ¼ of a cookie each and U.S. & Canada receives 5 cookies each. This illustration brings to life disparity based on population and GNI, hence leading students into conversations about thinking globally and acting locally. The elementary students take action on April 19 at SGAD on OSU’s campus with our FFA collaborating with the West Ohio Food Bank and SGAD to purchase 5,400 items to pack 1,800 meals to distribute to Lima City School students. Our Economic Develop Committee is so passionate they decide to take action locally with a food drive at our school for God’s Lifeline by collecting 750 items in a local food drive that wraps up on April 26.
Urban Ag Day Programs
In February, the Ag Promotions Committee meets with all FFA members in the ag classroom to design programs to teach the public about the ag, food and natural resources so they have a greater knowledge of where their food comes from and how to produce food in urban settings. Students are divided into committees to design sessions and link with agricultural partners for programming in May, September and October. In May, the freshmen and sophomores members meet in the ag classroom to create lessons for 15 stations that teach soil characteristics, small animal production, seed germination, plant growth, pH testing, ag biotechnology and other agricultural stations. On May 23, 100% of Ridgemont elementary students learn production techniques to produce their own food through urban ag production techniques at the school. In July, the officer team meets at the VanScoy Hydroponic greenhouse with representatives from the New Albany Farmers Market to design a new program to bring urban consumers to the farm to understand where and how the food they purchase at the market is grown. On September 22, 125 farmers market customers arrive at VanScoy farms to harvest potatoes, plant lettuce, tour the hydroponic greenhouse, pick tomatoes, collect eggs from chickens and touch wool on lambs at 6 stations. In September, all members collaborate to plan the program at a local dairy farm for all Ridgemont third graders. On October 15, FFA members teach 30 stations that range from: milking cows, making models of plant and animal cells, viewing stages of crop production from planting through harvest with toy tractors, crafting soybean wax soap and lip balm and building Lego barns.
Assistant Professor – Agronomy & Soils
The Ohio State University
1328 Dover Road, Skou 221F
Wooster, OH 44691
Office Phone: 3302871377
4-H Youth Development Educator
The Ohio State University
1021 W. Lima St. Suite 103
Kenton, OH 43326
Office Phone: 4196742297