GrowNextGen collaborated with the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Corn & Wheat on a special program to help students find their future career. Feed and Fuel Your Future consisted of 4 weeks of virtual field trips, lessons, and career panels.

Week One, Food science and food safety, began with a trip to Cargill’s soybean crushing facility in Sidney, Ohio. GrowNextGen industry leader Andrea Flowers gave a tour of the plant and talked about what happens there. The Sidney plant is one of only two Cargill facilities in the country that take soybeans from the field to table, producing soybean oil for consumers from locally-grown soybeans.

Flowers talked about the quality testing that happens at the plant on an ongoing basis, with samples taken every hour. She mentioned the many careers represented at Cargill, from managing financing, building new plants, buying beans, scheduling product runs, designing labels and marketing the product, directing delivery logistics, and more.

GrowNextGen education leader Jane Hunt presented a lesson on reading food labels. The FDA has specific guidelines about what goes on packaging. Hunt discussed what determines a product’s nutritional value, how to understand the information on a label, and what ‘organic’ means.

A career panel consisting of various food industry leaders wrapped up the week. Rebecca Singer and Elizabeth Muraski from CIFT; Lyda Garcia, assistant professor of animal sciences at OSU; Tracy Dendinger, ag ed program specialist; chemist Ernest Capraro from Nestle USA Quality Assurance; and Dale Fortner from Sandridge Foods shared about their career paths and their jobs within the food industry. They emphasized the wide variety of career possibilities within their industry. “If you have a passion for agriculture and a desire to learn, pursue that. Don’t be afraid to try other angles to find what you like! The food industry has a place for you,” Singer said.

Feed and Fuel Your Future will conclude with two weeks presented by Ohio Corn & Wheat, focusing on Sustainability and ecosystems and Technology. You can access GrowNextGen’s parts of the program on our YouTube channel.