Natural Connection to Agriculture and STEM
STEM education has a natural tie to the science of agriculture. With the need to feed and clothe a growing population projected to reach 9 million by 2050 there is a unique membership group with a bold vision of developing human capital by engaging the next generation in STEM careers in the Food & Agricultural industries. This unique membership group is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Food & Ag Council (SFAC) they are coordinated by STEMconnector®.
Together, as fully committed leaders and professionals, the SFAC will engage America’s youth, educators and parents to inspire and nurture them in their discovery and pursuit of STEM, food and agricultural careers. The professionals filling these careers will be the individuals helping feed the world through innovations in science and technology. The SFAC convenes the key players from industry, non-profits, higher education and government in order to maximize impact through collective action.
In late 2014, the STEM Food and Agriculture Council released a report highlighting the career opportunities that exist in food and agriculture and how these careers can help unlock the global challenge of sustainably feeding the world. This report was broadly distributed to over 4000 key stakeholders and served as the SFAC’s initial call to action. In early 2015, SFAC’s newly formed executive committee established four interrelated working groups. These groups will execute a comprehensive action plan that seeks to further the SFAC’s vision:
- Increase Awareness of the Needs and Opportunities for Innovation/Careers in Food and Ag - To reach new audiences we need compelling content. This group will leverage members' and strategic partners' proximity to young professionals and students pursuing dynamic, rewarding and remunerative careers in food and agriculture. Content will include videos that examine specific careers and highlight potential pathways. This group will interface directly with the communications working group.
- Dynamic Communications Plan - Building on the first Annual Report released in Q4 2014, this group will develop a new comprehensive communications strategy targeting key outreach constituencies that can help increase the pool of students pursuing careers in food and agriculture. A particular focus will be on increasing diversity in the food and agriculture fields from both geographic and demographic perspectives.
- Validate Content through Strategic Youth Engagement - An advisory council and focus group consisting of the Council's primary audience, young people currently making career choices, will be formed to help guide the Council's actions. They will ensure, with assistance from the working group, that projects align with current trends and interests. The advisory council will consist of young people who are members of organizations that are members or partners of SFAC.
- Leverage Professional Societies and Industry Groups for Youth Engagement - Professional societies and industry group meetings represent a largely untapped potential to educate youth about STEM careers in food and agriculture. Often, these groups meet in urban locales where they can potentially engage in high impact involvement that intrigues passionate professionals to mentor young people whose familiarity with the food and agricultural production is lower. This group will expose the next generation to career pathways in food and agriculture. Currently, two engagements are underway: one aiming to connect middle school students and another early college students.
To learn more about the STEM Food and Agriculture Council and their sponsoring partners visit, stemconnector.org/food-ag.
The National Council for Agricultural Education has member groups on the STEM Food and Agriculture Council. The National FFA Organization is a member organization and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities is a partner organization of the STEMconnector. Dwight Armstrong, Ph.D, FFA CEO serves as an active Council member for the STEM Food and Agriculture Council. Look for new updates and additional information on the STEM Food and Agriculture Council on this web page and The Council publication, Monday Morning Monitor.