Sustainable Agriculture

Lesson Plans & Online Learning

Lesson 1 - What is Sustainable Agriculture?

Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Length: 60 minutes
Learning Objectives
Participants will:

  • Define key terms related to sustainable agriculture
  • Identify key events throughout agricultural history and their effects
  • National Learning Standards:

    • HS-ESS3-1 Human Sustainability: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
    • HS-ESS3-4 Earth and Human Activity: Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • WHST.9-12.2 Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical processes.

    Materials and Equipment Needed:

    • Introductory Lesson PowerPoint
    • KWL posters (3)
    • Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture Activity Sheet (1 per student)
    • Post-it notes (at least 3 notes per student)
    • Access to the internet

    Cross-Curricular Connections:
    Use these suggested adaptations to make learning across the curriculum easy!

    Science
    Experience the plant lifecycle by growing a small historical garden in/near your classroom. Select crops that were originally grown in your area.

    Technology
    Conduct a mini-research project on technological advances throughout agricultural history and their impact on sustainability.

    Engineering
    Design a prototype of a system that could help make their school more sustainable.

    Mathematics
    Visit NASA’s (www.nasa.gov) or NOAA’s website (www.noaa.gov) to evaluate and chart climate change data.

    Teacher Preparation:

    • Create KWL posters
    • Print Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture Activity Sheets
    • Reserve access to computer lab, if necessary

Lesson 2 - Economics

Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Length: 60 minutes
Learning Objectives:
Participants will:

  • Explain farm business profitability and viability and its relation to economic sustainability
  • Understand how agriculture reflects other economic decisions
  • Understand how agriculture contributes to local, national, and global economies
  • Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics

    Content Standard 2: Decision Making: Students will understand that effective decision making requires comparing the additional costs of alternatives with the additional benefits. Many choices involve doing a little more or a little less of something: few choices are “all or nothing” decisions.

    Content Standard 7: Markets and Prices: Students will understand that a market exists when buyers and sellers interact. This interaction determines market prices and thereby allocates scarce goods and services.

    Content Standard 8: Role of Prices: Students will understand that prices send signals and provide incentives to buyers and sellers. When supply or demand changes, market prices adjust, affecting incentives.

    Content Standard 13: Income: Students will understand that income for most people is determined by the market value of the productive resources they sell. What workers earn primarily depends on the market value of what they produce.

    Materials and Equipment Needed:

    • Economic Sustainability PowerPoint
    • Paper and writing utensils for students
    • Paper cups (2 per student)
    • Risk and Reward Activity Sheet (1 per student)
    • Risk and Reward Activity Sheet: Die Answer Key (for teacher only)
    • 1 Die
    • Tokens or beans (to represent money), OR play money in $20 increments (enough that each student has the equivalent of $400)
    • Access to the internet

    Cross-Curricular Connections:
    Use these suggested adaptations to make learning across the curriculum easy!

    Science
    Conduct a weather assessment for the local area over a 3-month span (future). Consider historical data and future casts. Choose an area of production agriculture to layer over this weather assessment. Analyze the effects of the weather on the production.

    Technology
    How can technology in agriculture alleviate risks? Have students work in teams to design an app that would help alleviate risk (internal or external) for someone in production agriculture.

    Engineering
    Many agriculture crops can be stored to preserve the quality of the crop for feed, or to wait for a more favorable market. Design and build a prototype of for corn storage facilities. Research best practices and needs for corn storage.

    Mathematics
    Want to ramp up the stakes? Use the game in the lesson, but add multiple acres and additional starting money to the game. Add additional factors such as interest rates for farm loans, etc. to add complexity.

Lesson 3 - Environment

Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Length: 70 minutes
Learning Objectives:
Participants will:

  • Identify the five factors that contribute environmental quality and their significance
  • Describe how farmers care for the environment
  • National Learning Standards:

    • HS-ESS3-4 Earth and Human Activity: Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • HS-ESS3-1 Human Sustainability: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
    • RST.11-12-7 Integrate and evaluate multiple source of information presented in diverse formats and media in order to address a question or a problem.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

    Materials and Equipment Needed:

    • Environmental Sustainability PowerPoint
    • Access to the internet
    • Environmental Stewardship Activity Sheet (1 per student)
    • Group presentation prompts (1 per group)

    Cross-Curricular Connections:
    Use these suggested adaptations to make learning across the curriculum easy!

    Science
    Have students research the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil.

    Technology
    Have students research how historical advancements in technology have aided in environmental sustainability for agriculture.

    Engineering
    Instead of creating a PowerPoint, have students construct a model of a management practice.

    Mathematics
    Have students calculate the cost for implementing a new management practice.

Lesson 4 - Production

Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Length: 60 minutes
Learning Objectives:
Participants will:

  • Categorize agricultural commodities into the four uses of agricultural products – food, fiber, fuel, and shelter
  • Define key terms related to food security
  • Explore the food security on a global scale, including affordability, availability, quality, and safety of various farm outputs
  • National Learning Standards:

    • HS-ETS1-1 Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
    • RST.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple source of information presented in diverse formats in order to address a question or solve a problem.

    Materials and Equipment Needed:

    • Production Sustainability PowerPoint
    • Butcher paper or tearsheet (1 per group)
    • Markers and/or colored pencils
    • Access to the internet
    • Feeding the Planet Activity Sheets (1 per student)

    Cross-Curricular Connections:
    Use these suggested adaptations to make learning across the curriculum easy!

    Science
    Explore the impact of biological advancements in agricultural production methods. Suggested resource: Bringing Biotechnology to Life http://www.agfoundation.org/bringing-biotech-to-life/

    Technology
    Research the impact of planting and harvesting technology, such as GPS units in tractors.

    Engineering
    Create a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the engineering design of a piece of production equipment used today, and in the past.

    Mathematics
    Evaluate production and price data provided by the USDA Economic Research Service: https://www.ers.usda.gov/

Lesson 5 - Social

Grade Level: 9-12
Lesson Length: 60 minutes
Learning Objectives:
Participants will:

  • Understand the role that agriculture plays in society
  • Compare aspects of life for farmers, ranchers and farm workers with those in urban settings and occupations
  • Explain how sustainable agriculture enhances local communities
  • Describe aspects of food access such as food insecurity, poverty, language barriers, and food deserts that affect the social aspect of sustainable agriculture
  • National Learning Standards:

    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7: Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.9: Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.

    Materials and Equipment Needed:

    • Social Sustainability PowerPoint
    • Paper and writing utensils for students
    • Computer and internet accessibility for individual research needs
    • Web-based service (Skype, Google Hangout, Adobe Connect, WebEx, etc.)
    • One of the following options for each group:Variety of materials for visual presentation (large paper, markers, etc.)
    • Software to support the creation of a visual presentation
    • KWL posters from Lesson 1

    Cross-Curricular Connections:
    Use these suggested adaptations to make learning across the curriculum easy!

    Science
    Connect with a local registered dietician or nutritionist to address the science and nutrition of food. Consider asking the presenter to focus on food choices in America based on socio-economic factors.

    Technology
    Encourage students to reconnect with the farmers or ranchers from their project to address the technology that is used on their farms and ranches. Have students present their findings.

    Engineering
    Have students research and design alternative routes for food to travel from producer to consumer, taking into account shelf life, fragility, etc.

    Mathematics
    Have students research the breakdown of a dollar in the food system. For current data, check out Food and Farm Facts, available in the store at agfoundation.org

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