One of the Nebraska Corn Board’s (NCB) four main pillars is education, and the board works to develop and implement educational programs with an impact. Over its 42-year history, NCB has helped people of all ages and backgrounds better understand the state’s corn industry. As fewer people are growing up and residing in rural areas, a larger gap exists between consumer and producer, which is why NCB identified youth as an important audience to reach through its education efforts.
Earlier this year, NCB approved three new education initiatives to support teachers and students across Nebraska. Through each initiative, NCB will partner with other groups to expand reach, avoid duplication and promote implementation into actual classroom settings.
The “Nebraska Soil Summer Institute” is a partnership between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), Lincoln Public Schools and NCB. Through this pilot program, high school science teachers will take part in a two-week summer workshop. Throughout the two weeks, the teachers will get an in-depth training in soil science concepts, hands-on experiments and learning activities. Teacher participants will then develop curriculum for their science classrooms that meet state science standards and can be utilized by other teachers.
“Soil science integrates multiple disciplines such as biology, chemistry and physics,” said Dr. Martha Mamo, head of UNL’s Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. “By training science teachers in soil science, we support science education and strengthen agricultural education across the state.”
“Learn, Then Do” is a collaborative effort between the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation (NFBF), LPS and NCB. This program began as part of a grant from the national Ag in the Classroom program. Through this program, 20 high school science teachers will take part in a three-day workshop. As part of the program, the teachers will take part in various lessons and field trips to better understand how agriculture can be incorporated into their science courses. Teachers will then work with a national curriculum expert to develop lessons that meet Nebraska’s state science standards.
“Recently, Nebraska modified its state science standards, which are now modeled after and closely align with the Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of NFBF. “This puts us in a unique position because there isn’t that much curriculum available at this time that meets NGSS standards. By being on the forefront and developing this content now, we can reach teachers who are looking for these materials, and they’re all based on agricultural concepts. We’re thankful for the support from the Nebraska Corn Board who recognize the importance of exposing teachers and students to agriculture.”
The final project, “Making the Connection: An Agricultural Literacy Conference,” is a partnership between NFBF and NCB. This conference will bring together a variety of Nebraska educators who are wanting to incorporate agriculture into their programs. Participants could include teachers, Nebraska Extension educators and youth leaders. One key goal of the program is to demonstrate the partnerships between Nebraska commodity organizations, UNL, Nebraska Extension and NFBF, and show how high-quality resources and activities from multiple sources can be used to build a meaningful agricultural literacy program.
“We know we are stronger together,” said Brandon Hunnicutt, vice chair of NCB and farmer from Giltner. “By partnering with groups like the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, Lincoln Public Schools and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, our goal is to reach teachers and students across the state with meaningful agricultural curriculum. We know this is the start of something great. Something we can continue to build upon and make stronger.”