Two of Minnesota’s organized soybean counties have invested checkoff dollars in tomorrow’s agriculture leaders.
The Blue Earth County Corn and Soybean Growers and their checkoff dollars are donating to the Mankato FFA chapter to assist with building a greenhouse. The outreach efforts will help local producers support and educate youth in their communities while also promoting homegrown commodities.
“With Mankato being the largest city in our county, it is important to make sure agricultural education is being understood and learned in a larger community,” says Travis Stewart, Blue Earth County Corn and Soybean Growers president. “There are many students in Mankato that don’t get to have the hands-on agricultural experiences as some of the more rural schools do, and we believe it is important to help enhance the schools’ ability to teach students the importance of the agricultural industry.”
After the greenhouse is built, it will be used in multiple ways for agricultural education. One of the long-range goals that will be implemented is the “Farm to Fork” school program. The program will enable students to grow, maintain and produce lettuce that will be then served during school lunches.
According to FFA’s website, other goals of the initiative include: increasing awareness of indigenous growing practices and food varieties; creating plant and agribusiness systems; agriscience research projects through plant production and sales and offering an extensive agriculture sales course.
“American education is currently trying to prepare 21st century students in 20th century classrooms,” says Ethan Dado, Mankato FFA adviser. “Mankato FFA looks to tackle this challenge through implementation of a greenhouse that meets the needs of our diverse learners and provides the agriculture industry with its next employees.”
Supporting local agriculture education
The McLeod County Corn and Soybean Growers and their checkoff dollars donated to the Minnesota Ag in the Classroom (MAITC).
“Agriculture education is something our board supports strongly,” says Ryan Mackenthun, McLeod County Corn and Soybean Growers president. “My children come home with these materials, and it truly helps impact their agriculture education at a young age. Overall, it is just one stepping stone to pave young agriculturists’ interests into one day becoming a part of the agricultural industry.”
The program seeks to improve student achievement by applying authentic, agricultural-based content by encouraging teachers to embed agriculture into their classroom. The program cultivates an understanding and appreciation of the food and fiber system.
“The program is a benefit to everyone,” Mackenthun says. “Even in these rural communities, many students don’t have a farm background, and it is important to start their agriculture education now to help dismantle the spread of misinformation about the agriculture industry.”
Both the Blue Earth County and McLeod County Corn and Soybean Growers boards are affiliated with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, which oversees the investment of soybean checkoff dollars on behalf of nearly 28,000 soybean farmers in Minnesota. The Council is governed by the rules of a federally mandated checkoff program that requires all soybean producers pay a fee on the soybeans they sell. This money is used to promote, educate and develop market opportunities for soybeans.