Connecting with family & consumer sciences
During a conference with the theme “Making Connections,” agriculture had the opportunity to make connections with family and consumer science (FCS) professionals from across the state.
The recent North Carolina Family and Consumer Science Association has a strong agriculture presence. From sponsors, booths, tours, and panels, farmers and others in the agricultural community were able to make connections.
FCS teachers instruct middle and high school students. Members also represent university students and professors. Classes include foods, culinary, food systems, textiles, and interior design.
During the meeting teachers could take a tour focused on seafood. It included two companies that buy fish from commercial fishermen and sell them retail and wholesale. They also toured a restaurant that grows some of the food used on the menu and purchases fish direct from fishermen. Another tour offered teachers the opportunity to tour two boat builders. Teachers can take these experiences back to the classroom and share them with their students.
Three women comprised the panel for the “Google is Not Your Farmer” session:
- Marlowe Ivey, a pig farmer and executive director of Feed the Dialogue NC, answered questions about the use of antibiotics and hormones on her farm. She also addressed the level of greenhouse gases attributed to agriculture.
- CoCo Daughtry, communications coordinator for the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission, was able to share with the teachers the value of commodity groups and the resources, including lesson plans, that many have available.
- Oberlin McDaniel, a large animal veterinarian and farmer herself, addressed teacher concerns about animal welfare, antibiotics, and hormones. She was also able to share how her family raises crops both organically and conventionally, and what that means to farmers and consumers.
The panel not only represented diversity in agriculture, but also careers in the industry. This gave teachers an opportunity to see what other opportunities might be available to students who are interested in agriculture but don’t want to be farmers.
Several positive things happened because of agriculture’s involvement in the conference. First, with the input of teachers during the panel, areas of the FCS curriculum that aren’t accurate were identified. These can be changed now, which is important because our industry changes daily, but curriculum is rewritten every five years. For example, one change means students will no longer be taught that agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, agriculture can have a voice when FCS curriculum is revised, to make sure the areas that discuss our industry accurately reflect what farmers are doing in the field. Tours are in the works to show teachers the food system from field to shelf, earning participants continuing education credits for professional development. There are also discussions about setting up virtual farm visits throughout the year to bring teachers and students to the farm without leaving their classroom.
Agriculture was able to make connections during this conference that, like perennials, will continue to grow.