In 2015, Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, the industry leader in enhancing consumer trust in the U.S. food production system, launched an all-new educational initiative that was designed to provide high school students a first-hand glimpse into modern agriculture. Discovering Farmland offers interactive resources that allow teachers and students to experience the industry through the eyes of six young farmers and ranchers, all while learning about food production’s connection to science, economics, technology and sustainability.
Discovering Farmland provides high school students, educators and parents with standards-aligned lesson plans and interactive activities that explore concepts critical to modern agriculture, such as sustainability, technology, and science. Designed by Discovery Education’s curriculum experts, these resources aim to stimulate thoughtful conversations between educators and students about key issues including: innovative use of technology on farms and how it has transformed the industry; challenges farmers face such as weather and growing conditions; common stereotypes around farmers and ranchers; and market supply and demand.
The Foundation supports this initiative by funding updated Interactive Lesson Plans, Digital Exploration, and 360° Videos for educators to use in their classrooms.
The Discovering Farmland’s Interactive Lesson Plans are PowerPoint-based lessons that support interactive whiteboards and other modern learning tools. Teachers can access a wide range of dynamic, interactive classroom lessons (up to two 45-minute class periods each) designed to engage high school students in exploring critical issues impacting the agriculture industry.
Funds raised by the Foundation assist in the further development; expanded reach; and new, unique lesson plans that are derived from Discovering Farmland.
The Discovering Farmland’s Digital Exploration is a custom designed, self-paced learning experience. Students will investigate food product label claims by choosing a specific product from virtual grocery store aisles featuring produce, meat, and cereal.
Additional funding will allow for even more digital exploration exercises to further educate students on product label claims.
Through 360° videos, which utilize a virtual reality (VR)-style headset, students will have a chance to experience life on the farm. The most recent project takes students inside an Illinois pig farm – right from their classroom. This effort is part of another initiative that the Foundation supports, the “SMART Farm” which is aimed at bridging the gap between acceptance of everyday innovation in consumer’s lives with science and technology on today’s farms.
Additional funding will support 360° videos, focusing on technology used in growing row crops, taking students on a tour of a dairy farm, and more.