Prepping Tomorrow's Consumers
Dec 12, 2019
Groups of small, wooden desks were perfectly aligned, and the alphabet stretched above the interactive whiteboard. Students were giggly with excitement for the guests that were joining their classroom. Their guests were MKC employees Jon Schmidt and Tracy Cook. This isn’t the typical place of work for Schmidt and Cook, as they normally spend their day at the cooperative helping customers with their agronomy needs. But in a fourth-grade classroom in Newton, Schmidt and Cook’s passion and knowledge for agriculture could be seen first-hand.
“Cooperatives were founded on the principles of education and training,” Schmidt says. “What better way to demonstrate our commitment to the cooperative system and our member-owners than by educating youth about what farmers and ranchers do.”
Farm and ranch families comprise just 2% of the U.S. population, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. With the lack of direct connection to rural America, coupled with marketing information coming from grocery stores and restaurants, it’s no wonder there is public confusion about production agriculture.
It is for some of those reasons that MKC started their employee program to offer classroom presentations to students at elementary schools across the state in 2014. Targeted primarily to first-through-fifth-grade students, the MKC ‘Ag in our Everyday Lives’ presentation discusses what grains are, the crops grown in Kansas and the many uses for these crops. The presentation also informs students how MKC helps farmers and ranchers grow food. The students put together a pretend pizza, discussing how each ingredient comes from some form of agriculture. After the presentation, MKC provides pizza for the students to enjoy.
More than 70 fourth-grade students at South Breeze Elementary School in Newton, Kansas, learned more about agriculture from Schmidt and Cook. Their teacher, Mrs. Allison Grow, was overwhelmed with excitement when she heard MKC employees would come talk to the students about agriculture and how it would tie into their current studies in the classroom about the different regions in the United States.
“We are currently learning about the Midwest region of the United States and the products and natural resources in those states,” Grow says. “We have discussed the importance of land, water and climate, and the students have really become fascinated about the natural resources and products of the region. Agriculture tied in perfectly to those lessons.”
Grow ultimately wants students to have a better understanding of where they live.
“Having the employees at MKC come in and talk about the topic of agriculture as experts, the students listen. Giving my students the opportunity to touch the grain and learn from Tracy and Jon was so powerful,” Grow says.
Since March 2019, MKC employees have presented to more than 30 classes of students.
“We live and work in rural communities, but it is amazing how many children aren’t confident in what they see around them,” Schmidt says. “Now, more than ever, farmers need advocates to help tell their story and it is rewarding to be a part of that.”
Two students in Grow’s fourth grade class, shared about their experience:
“I learned a lot more about the crops in Kansas and what they are used for. A new thing I learned was that soybeans are used to make crayons. My favorite part of the presentation was learning about all of the resources grown in Kansas.” – Hannah Pham, age 9
“I learned that MKC puts crops in grain elevators and in bunkers. My favorite part was getting to touch all of the crops.” – Exavier Torres, age 10
Note from the editor: If you know of a classroom or civic group who would benefit from having an MKC representative be a guest speaker about agriculture, please contact MKC Communications and Brand Manager Nichole Gouldie at email@example.com or