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Commodity Classic shows that "career opportunities in ag are endless!"

Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show. Seed to STEM’s sponsor, Kansas Corn, made it possible for S2S teacher leaders to experience this event. Anna Lukert teaches Agriculture to grades 7 through 12 at St. Marys High School in St. Marys, Kansas. Here’s what she had to say about this trip:

As an agricultural educator, going to the Commodity Classic was like going to a fair. I was excited to see all of the technology and resources available to farmers. What I did not anticipate were all of the hands-on activities and outreach that so many companies were providing to support educating not only farmers, but the public in general, and the programs and funding in place to help young people gain an interest in careers related to agriculture.

As a teacher, I saw great ways to provide hands-on learning opportunities for my students. The event allowed me to develop industry contacts who have knowledge and resources to provide more enriching hands-on, problem based learning opportunities for my students. Not to mention all of the fantastic outreach programs my students can utilize to explore careers in agricultural industries!

I really enjoyed meeting all of the wonderful people that are truly advocates for Agriculture (AgVocates!) and have a common goal of helping the public understand where their food comes from and how it’s grown, but also developing a deeper interest, particularly in young people, to help foster the future science and technology to feed a growing world population.

I was so excited to share everything I learned with my classes! We incorporated a unit in Precision Agriculture which included a tour of our local farmer’s cooperative and a speaker with a Precision Agriculture major from our local agricultural technical college. Then students further explored Precision Agriculture topics and presented them to the class in Google slides. We used the presentations to do a March Madness contest where students “competed” against each other’s presentations to move on to further rounds. They learned a lot about their Precision Ag topics AND honed their public speaking skills—win, WIN! Now the students are all excited to share what they have learned with their larger community through our Kiddie Barnyard outreach activity with our grade school and the community at-large. So they are now working on ideas to show off this amazing technology to an even younger generation. It’s had a snowball effect!

As a result of going to the Commodity Classic, I can tell my students that career opportunities in agriculture are endless! There are so many different careers that go into supporting the science, technology, engineering and math driving the innovations in agriculture that help us to feed our growing world population—and they can be that agent for change! What more noble cause is there than helping farmers feed the world? If, of course, they choose not to be the noblest profession of all: a farmer. It was so cool to meet farmers from around the country and to see how excited people are to help farmers incorporate research and technology into caring for their land and growing their crops, all with the same goal in mind—to preserve our planet as we feed a growing population. Being at Commodity Classic truly brought to mind the words of E.M. Tiffany from the final paragraph of the FFA Creed: “I believe that American Agriculture CAN and WILL hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.” It was exciting and infectious to see the optimism and determination in agriculture, even in light of a difficult economic situation on the horizon.

Probably my favorite part of the trip, other than the many opportunities to network and bond with my fellow Kansans from Kansas Corn and my fellow lead educators, was the opportunity to step WAY outside my comfort zone and do an interview with John Jenkinson from the Ag Network. He has spent his life Advocating for Agriculture through radio and television media and is just a fantastic person to talk to. Having the chance to sit down and talk to him and share what we were doing at Commodity Classic through the Kansas Corn Seed to STEM program was really exciting. It was also a lot of fun to run into another Agvocate in Agricultural Communications while waiting for our plane who shared the same excitement about the Commodity Classic and taking it home to share with our communities!

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