STEM education soon to be incorporating dairy

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The dairy checkoff is bringing a new approach to growing trust with young Americans by helping high school curriculum writers across the country incorporate accurate science behind food and agriculture in classroom lessons. Midwest Dairy is proud to have co-funded and co-led this academic-focused pilot over the last three years with the National Dairy Council, which will help inform the strategy and scale our reach and impact.
Midwest Dairy knows it is important to continually grow trust with today’s youth and believes this is an influential route to do so. All high school students must take science before they graduate, and 91% have no interaction with an agriculture program like 4-H or FFA. This initiative will help youth be careful consumers of scientific and technical information to evaluate misinformation while equipping them for their chosen careers.
One effort of the pilot includes the On The Farm STEM program, which brings leading science educators and curriculum developers to dairy farms and the broader supply chain to discover ideas that can fit into high school science curriculum. The experience – created in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture – will offer science-based information about how dairy is responsibly produced by farmers and its contributions to health and wellness.
As we continue to get dairy in the classroom, checkoff has learned that science is no longer learning and memorizing what scientists have done; it is about doing and experiencing scientific phenomena to uncover and understand systems. Food and agriculture are great ways to learn because everyone eats, and everything we do is rooted in science.  
Midwest Dairy hosted an On The Farm STEM immersive experience last year for educators from 15 states and Puerto Rico to visit dairy farms and other industry entities in Minnesota. These participants saw firsthand how farmers use many STEM-aligned aspects to care for the environment and their cows, ultimately building trust. This experience also led to the development of two complete units of curriculum expected to be implemented in several states in 2024.
Currently, the National Dairy Council and Midwest Dairy are creating an implementation handbook that other state and regional checkoff organizations can customize based on their needs. The checkoff is also building relationships with key education organizations such as the National Science Teaching Association and respected curriculum reviewers to bring awareness to STEM content. The goal is for this pilot program to go nationwide, building the platform to bring dairy to all classrooms.
To learn more about this effort, visit www.usdairy.com.

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