Home Commodities Commodity Classic equips science teachers with ag insight – Ohio Ag Net

Commodity Classic equips science teachers with ag insight – Ohio Ag Net

Ohio Ag Net

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

Commodity Classic brings farmers together from all over the country to learn, and it is also a great place for teachers to learn about the agricultural practices they are integrating into their classrooms.

Through the generosity of the Ohio soybean farmers and their checkoff, and the GrowNextGen program, many Ohio teachers have gotten the opportunity to travel to Commodity Classic to see first-hand the innovation and technology that goes into producing crops on America’s farms.

Kelly Lewis, the program instructor for bioscience technologies at Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical Schools, was among around 50 other teachers from across the country who attended the 2024 Commodity Classic to learn more about modern agriculture.

“It was pretty amazing. They told me to bring an extra suitcase, and I’m really glad I did because I brought a lot back for my students. It was great to connect with growers and learn about different aspects of the industry. Now I’m able to bring their experiences back into my classroom,” Lewis said. “I talked to as many people as I could at the trade show. I think the first day, I didn’t even get off the third floor. It was huge.”

Kelly Lewis was among around 50 other teachers from across the country who attended the 2024 Commodity Classic to learn more about modern agriculture.

The incredible diversity of the trade show exhibitors at the Commodity Classic allows different teachers to find information relevant to the specific situations of their classrooms.

“I think there were four or five of us from Ohio that were there experiencing the Commodity Classic and being given the opportunity to bring things back to our classroom. I know with the teachers in Ohio, we all teach in different settings and we were like little kids in a candy store just running from one booth to the next and seeing everybody’s excitement,” she said. “Learning from the different vendors was pretty amazing. They explained to me how a biological works, or how a fungicide works in a way that I can understand and take back to the classroom. So, yeah, we were all pretty excited to be there.”

Lewis was also impressed with the size of the incredible farm equipment on display.

“It was really nice to get a picture in front of some of the machinery to be able to show the students the scale of what is out there in terms of the equipment bringing the food to their table every single year,” she said.

Interacting with industry experts at Commodity Classic also helped Lewis better guide students when introducing scientific career pathways in agriculture.

“I teach students that are from urban and suburban areas and I enjoy watching the lightbulbs go off when they start to make connections between doing the science and seeing how it applies to agriculture. So often I have students that want to be doctors or they want to be nurses and we work a lot with the DNA and microbiology. Of course, all of that goes across many spectrums, and I can show them that this is just as applicable in the agricultural field as it is in the health field. Being able to have this technology available and learn how we can bring food to our table in a much healthier manner and start feeding our populations as they grow is really important,” she said.

Lewis expressed appreciation for the access GrowNextGen continually provides to her and her students, particularly when it comes to seeing the science behind how agriculture works.

“I love the GrowNextGen e-learning courses. Especially when we got shut down during COVID, the e-learning courses have been great to allow students to work at their own pace and give them opportunities to again just see all different areas of agriculture and applications. I also really appreciate all of the virtual visits that they have. I’m going to be doing one here later on with my students where we make soy biodiesel and look at how that works. Then they have a live feed when farmers start planting in the field, which some kids don’t get to experience here in central Ohio. That helps make it real for them,” Lewis said.

GrowNextGen’s e-learning courses, virtual field trips, and ag-based curriculum materials introduce students to ag with first-hand experiences. Through those experiences, teachers correct the misconceptions that students often carry before they receive access to modern agriculture.

“They are always amazed at the technology. It’s not just a farmer sitting there like it’s the 1950s with the big straw hat. It’s a very technical operation going on in the cab when it comes to planting, fertilizing and harvesting,” Lewis said. “I think it’s really important for students to see that. It also helps to spark conversations as to what other opportunities there are after high school in agriculture. If I have students who are more into coding and more into technology, I can say, ‘Hey have you considered this as a career path?’ In agriculture, you can immediately impact lives just as much as if you were to go a different direction.”

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