This May, 2019, urban educators from around the nation traveled to Kansas and New York where they learned the principles of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) through the “On The Farm” experience.
Pioneered by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (AFBFA), contractor to the Beef Checkoff, the On The Farm STEM experience offers a first-hand look at beef production. It brings educators together with ranchers, researchers and veterinarians to see how they apply STEM concepts in the beef industry every day. The program’s goal is to increase participants’ agricultural knowledge and encourage them to better connect STEM with agriculture in their classrooms and curriculums. Over the past three years, AFBFA has engaged more than 200 education leaders, including those from the top 10 urban school districts in the nation.
“Prior to this On The Farm experience, I would have never thought to use hands-on STEM connected to agriculture, but now, I see immediate applications to tie what I’ve learned into science classrooms.” – Jennifer Mayo, Portland Public Schools.
As generations of consumers become further and further removed from agriculture, the need and demand for these experiences continues to grow. This is especially true in urban school districts, such as Los Angeles Unified School District (CA), Broward County School District (FL), Portland Public Schools (OR) and New York City Department of Education.
By investing checkoff dollars toward programs like the On The Farm STEM experience, beef producers are able to educate participants about the food system – resulting in a stronger pasture-to-plate connection.
These national events are moving the needle by enhancing beef perception and intent to consume while also increasing exposure to state programming. Pre- and post-event assessments administered to On The Farm participants indicated major changes in their perceptions of beef after attending the event.
The Beef Checkoff program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.