It’s not easy to stand out in a crowd of 8000 people, but a tie-dyed lab coat definitely helps! Thirteen Ohio teachers recently attended the Commodity Classic in Phoenix AZ, seeking to create a bridge between the agricultural industry and the classroom. The group included chemistry, biology, environmental science, agriscience, physics, biotechnology and food science teachers. They spent time in the trade show, attended learning sessions, talked with ag industry experts, and explored new topics in agricultural business and science. The group also met the US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

“Real Issues, Real Careers: How Agribusiness Professionals, State Association Staff & Other Agvocates Can Help Science Teachers Teach Agriculture” was Saturday morning’s learning session, a shared presentation by the Ohio Corn Marketing Board and the Ohio Soybean Council. Seventy-five people representing ten states attended the session and learned about curriculum available to teachers on and The session included a video of teacher testimonials, a panel of Ohio industry and media experts who have collaborated on education projects, and a hands-on water quality activity demonstrating the link between standards-based curriculum and agriculture.

Katrina Swinehart, Satellite Agriscience instructor at Greene County Career Center, appreciated learning about the many career resources available from Monsanto. Rachel Sanders and Pam Clark, instructors at the Global Impact STEM Academy, made connections with someone from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, who offered their chemists for questions and lab suggestions on food, fiber, fuels, and other bio-products. Andrea Harpen, a chemistry and physics teacher at Blanchester High School, is excited about pursuing other bioproducts associated with high oleic soybean oil.

Chuck Crawford, a physics and environmental science teacher at Dublin Jerome High School, appreciated the time to collaborate with colleagues and learn new things. Crawford said, “As a third time visitor to the Commodity Classic, it is incredible to know that you can still increase your knowledge so much in such a little time. The industry has so many moving parts, and every chance that I get to have a conversation with someone in the industry I am able to gain insight. That insight makes me better equipped to bring agricultural concepts into the classroom and to share with other colleagues in our network.”