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Agrimarketing : May 2009
24 TOB CropLife Ambassador:32 Feature Story 5/13/09 11:16 AM Page 24 THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX AG’SFUTUREISINTHEHANDSOFKIDS T by Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Network ProgramCoordinator,Mid America CropLife Association he fate of agriculture is in the hands of today’s ten-year-old children.What children are learning about agriculture todaywill affectwhat they choose to eat and purchasewhen in total control of their personal choices fromfood to clothing to jobs by age 20. Starting anywhere fromage 20 to 30, that child nowan adult,will begin controlling the purchase choices of an entire family for the next 20 years.What career stagewill you be in this 40 year span? Is today’s ten-year-old child learning about the benefits and safety ofmodern technology being used to produceAmerica’s food and fiber?Will their purchase decisions support our industry and your career? Orwill their decisions reflect themisperceptions about the safety ofmodern technology? The CropLife Ambassador Network (CAN), the outreach education programofMid America CropLife Association (MACA), addresses the need to have informed future decisionmakers. CAN’smission is to provide scientifically based, accurate information to the public regarding the safety and value of American agricultural food production. Currently, CANengages the assistance of approximately 160 volunteer ambassadors to teach children in fourth through sixth grade (ages 9-12) about the scientific technologies being used to produce an abundant supply of not only food but of products they use in their daily lives that come fromplants, animals and their byproducts. THE INFORMATION AGE The intermediate grade school levels are an appropriate time to introduce the concepts. TheNational Education Standards for fourth to eighth grade indicate students should develop understanding of science and technology in solving local challenges, the risks and benefits of science, the role of science and technology in society, science as a human 24 Agri Marketing s May 2009 endeavor and the abilities of technological design. Educators are looking forways to help students develop critical thinking skills.Agriculture is a great theme to use to develop this skill as it entails a topic impacting each child’s life and one they can put their hands on. It is eye-opening for children to learn howmuch of their day actually • “Stewards of the Land” help students graspways farmers conserve soil, protectwater, control chemicals and preservewildlife. • “Careers in Agriculture” showhow agriculture extends beyond the farm. • “War of theWeeds” explains the challenges faced by farmers and the impact of advancing technology. CropLife Ambassador Thomas Quade, FMC,with a Cub Scout pack in Kansas City,MO. depends on agriculture.We help themunderstand howagriculture affects the underlying needs of our entire society.We get themthinking about howthe United States can meet these needs even though the amount of land available to farmis decreasing, the population is increasing and farmers face numerous challenges such asweeds, pests, and weather conditions. CANcurrently offers six presentations fromwhich teachersmay choose: • “America’s Abundance” explores the role of technology in an abundant and safe food supply. • “Farm Fueled:” Biofuels shows how technology in agriculture can help meet the demand for fuel. • “Feeding Planet Earth” takes an economic and global look at agriculture. To insure our programs are rele- vant to schools’ curriculums, our programs have been alignedwith the National Education Standards. Teachers need to knowthat our information applies towhat is being taught in the classroom. It signals to themthat we offer a quality program.Agriculture blends the study of science and social science and alignswellwith education standards. THE PAY OFF MACAhas sponsored the CropLife AmbassadorNetwork since 1994 in theMACAmember state of Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas,Michigan,Minnesota, Missouri,Nebraska,North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota andWisconsin. BonnieMcCarvel, Executive Director ofMACA, explains “We have
May 2009 Supplement