High school and middle school classrooms around the country could soon see a new addition to their curriculums. The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, contractor to the Beef Checkoff, has enlisted beef-science and education professionals to successfully develop two beef-production, science-based courses to help familiarize students with the beef industry. A majority of Americans do not have a basic understanding of where their food, fiber and fuel comes from. As city populations grow the disconnect from agriculture widens, and that audience is the focus of The Beef Checkoff’s current effort. This comes from the belief that the solution to this problem is better, more focused education.
“Educating youth through science education about beef production is important because the agriculture industry relies on a scientifically literate society,” said Rick Henningfeld, education director for The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.
The curriculum will show, from field to fork, how cattle farmers and ranchers are implementing sustainable practices and utilizing science standards to produce high-quality beef that’s enjoyed around the world.
The pilot for the new curriculum began in November of 2019 in classrooms in Oregon, Georgia, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee. The goal of the pilot was to gather teacher feedback and student samples. From there, it will be scored according to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a set of K-12 science-content standards that establish expectations for what students should know and be able to do. The NGSS score is an important measure designed to ensure the beef-science curriculum is meeting nationwide science standards and is viewed as an important part of school lesson plans. The goal is to receive NGSS badging in early 2020 and then start introducing the curriculum nationwide through the National Science Teaching Association.
With consumers getting further removed from production agriculture, today’s youth can benefit from learning about the real ways beef producers utilize science-based methodology in their daily operations. These high school and middle school curriculums have the potential to truly impact the way young people view agriculture and beef products in the future. The Beef Checkoff is actively working to ensure this curriculum comes to life.
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.