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Feb. 15, 2017
By Lexi Ryan, media relations assistant
The Northwest Missouri State University School of Agricultural Sciences received two grants recently totaling $225,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Non-Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture (NLGCA) Program and the Missouri Agricultural Foundation.
A $150,000 grant from USDA-NLGCA will allow Northwest to create a middle school food and agriculture literacy curriculum. Northwest faculty will develop the agriculture and food literacy initiative, which will be implemented in middle schools throughout a four-state region by upper-level collegiate agricultural science students participating in a new food systems technology course.
The toolkit will include an onsite presentation utilizing a mobile agriculture and food literacy laboratory and an experiential field visit to a real working production farm. It will allow students to visit the University’s R.T. Wright Farm and take part in activities based in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“To help them understand the industry and connect with agriculture and food is the main goal of the grant,” Rod Barr, director of the School of Agricultural Sciences, said. “It allows us to take an agriculture and food literacy trailer to the school with some curriculum materials.”
The grant also will fund agriculture literacy summits for educators of all levels and an experiential learning trip to New York City for students enrolled in the food systems technology course.
“The efforts in New York City are amazing with the population,” Barr said. “Being able to take a look at that with the challenges and how the food system works is something that, to that magnitude, is a little different than something we would see in places like Kansas City or anywhere in the Midwest.”
Additionally, a $75,000 grant from the Missouri Agricultural Foundation through the Missouri Beef Initiative, will help Northwest construct a covered beef feeding facility at the R.T. Wright Farm to conduct research of the economic benefits of covered feeding versus traditional, non-covered feeding.
“It will expose students to an important part of the industry, and will give students the opportunity to work with some undergraduate and graduate research with our faculty,” Barr said. “I think that is an opportunity for student success. It helps students to get involved in something that they may pursue as a career.”
The School of Agricultural Sciences is experiencing rapid enrollment growth of 30 percent during the last five years and 10 percent in the last year; nearly 700 students – or more than 12 percent of the University’s undergraduate population – are enrolled in its ag science programs.
Students in ag science-related majors gain profession-based experience at the 448-acre Wright Farm, which is home to beef, swine, dairy and sheep enterprises as well as row and forage crops. Additionally, Northwest and the School of Agricultural Sciences are in the planning stages for an $8.5 million, 29,000-square-foot Agricultural Learning Center to be built at the Wright Farm that could provide laboratory and research resources to supplement and enhance the academic curriculum.
For more information, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/ag/.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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