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“Exploring Agriculture: A World of Opportunities” is a new curriculum coming in 2019 for middle school students in Missouri. Funding for the curriculum was provided by FCS Financial to help teachers prepare students for advanced level ag studies and ag professions.  

Agriculture programs in Missouri middle schools is growing with 29 programs added in 2016-17, which is up from an average of 6 new programs per year for the last 10 years. Additionally, enrollment is growing. Since the development of the original curriculum in 1991, there has been a 450 percent growth in total number of enrollments. Average enrollment growth has been 3 percent for the past 10 years and is expected to continue.

"In today’s world we know that early exploration of career opportunities can be key to a student’s success as they progress through their formal education into a career,” says Leon Busdieker, Director of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “The new FCS sponsored Exploring Agriculture curriculum will provide agriculture teachers across the state with a much sought after tool needed to help their students develop a solid understanding of today’s ag industry and its career opportunities.”

With materials last revised in 2000, changing demographics without direct connection to agriculture in many areas, a growing demand for ag employees and a shortage of ag teachers, the need for a high-quality, turn-key curriculum was obvious. Developed by Vivayic, a learning solutions company, with a committee of educators and industry representatives, the lessons reflect modern agriculture and teaching practices.

“FCS Financial is dedicated to serving agriculture and rural communities,” says David Janish, FCS Financial CEO. “Inaccurate perceptions about ag production as well as the need for a growing workforce in ag-related careers can be improved by providing a quality education to all students. Beginning these classes in middle school provides a strong foundation to build on.”

Instructors are able to pick and choose from six modules each lasting nine weeks. Modules may be selected to provide quarter, semester or year-long exploratory ag classes. The modules include animal science, plant science, food science, natural resources, ag systems and agribusiness. 

“Middle school agriculture classes is an important component of agriculture education that often gets over looked. This new curriculum will offer more hands on activities to get middle school students excited about agriculture and the opportunities it offers,” says Amanda Sullivan, Montgomery Co. R-II Agriculture Instructor. “I plan on using this curriculum in my 8th grade agriculture education class to help create more hands on critical thinking activities and lessons.”

In 2014, FCS Financial sponsored the new ag curriculum for Missouri high schools. The new sixth through eighth grade modules build upon that existing infrastructure. The curriculum is web-based and integrated with school technology using Google classrooms, Canvas and Blackboard. Online delivery of the materials allows for targeted updates and expansion. Instructors can access the materials free on the Missouri FFA Association website.

FCS Financial is a member of the Farm Credit System. The system is a nationwide network of cooperative lending institutions that provides credit and financial services to farmers, ranchers, rural residents and agribusinesses. With nearly 100 years of agricultural lending experience, the Farm Credit System is the largest single provider of agricultural credit in the United States. FCS Financial serves 102 counties in Missouri through 21 office locations.



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