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“GrowNextGen really values teachers”: Commodity Classic 2018

John Thomas is a biotechnology and environmental science instructor at Tolles Technical Center and Fairbanks Middle/High School. He shares about his visit to Commodity Classic 2018.

I really enjoyed my experience at the Commodity Classic. I am thankful that Grow Next Gen and the Ohio Soybean Council gave us a chance to learn from the experts in the field, researchers or ambassadors within industry and the farmers themselves. The event showed us the passion and energy that goes into agriculture as a science and as a way of life. Every vendor and every attendee was there to contribute new ideas about how agriculture is done.

Grow Next Gen really values teachers and gave us the opportunity to meet individuals who have produced the latest advancements in technology. We learned about DuPont/Pioneer’s new Corteva brand. They shared with us about work they have done to create Plenish high oleic soybeans. Using GrowNextGen’s lesson on high oleic oils would be a great way to extend this information into the classroom.

We followed Monsanto’s “Journey of the Seed” to see how favorable traits can be added through biotechnology to produce a more successful crop. Monsanto provided each teacher with both GMO and non GMO soybeans to use in their classroom. This growing project would be useful in conjunction with the GrowNextGen curriculum on GMOs.

Networking with other educators was a valuable part of the experience for me. Since this event took place in California, we worked with California teachers and looked for curriculum connections. It was a wonderful opportunity to share ideas, and it would be great if GrowNextGen could branch out into other states with ambassador programs that can push STEM-geared programing into agricultural education.

AgCo unveiled new technology at the conference, demonstrating how the planting process can be improved. Tractors outfitted with treads reduce compaction. An in-cab guidance system uses GPS to produce precise onboard maps with current weather data. This technology helps the farmer obtain data to utilize best management practices. The GrowNextGen website has a lesson on this type of data simulating the critical analysis that a farmer must make.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue also made an appearance at the conference and shared all that is happening at the national level, the overall picture of the future of agriculture and how this projection is currently affecting the price of commodities. Secretary Perdue made sure that each teacher was personally greeted to and welcomed us to share this experience with others.

For me, the best part of the experience was being welcomed by experts that want to share their ideas. Everyone was able to contribute to the larger discussion of what is happening in world agriculture.

Commodity Classic was a great experience for teachers to get a firsthand look at the latest technologies in agriculture. Thanks to the Ohio Soybean Council for the opportunity to attend this event. I plan on sharing what I have learned with my students. Also, large corporations such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Corteva, and AgCo are no longer faceless entities for me; they are made of individuals that value education as much as I do.


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