How to Educate the Next Generation on Crop Nutrients

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As an ag retailer, your customers are responsible for feeding and clothing the world. To do this important job, farmers need the right tools — including fertilizer, or crop nutrients.

But while you and your customers understand how necessary fertilizer is to keep the world running, sometimes the general population doesn’t. That’s why the nonprofit, educational organization Nutrients for Life was created.

Expanding Plant Nutrient Literacy

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, decision-makers and future consumers. With that in mind, it is important that students, both rural and urban, have a basic understanding of agriculture and the important role crop nutrients play in feeding our growing population,” says Haley Siergiej, the Illinois regional representative for Nutrients for Life.

The organization opened in 2004 with the goal of teaching school children about fertilizer. Today the Nutrients for Life Foundation operates around the globe and in all 50 states, providing educational resources for elementary, middle and high school students. Corteva Agriscience is a proud sponsor of the organization’s efforts.

Siergiej explains the resources Nutrients for Life provides “are science-based materials to improve plant nutrient literacy and soil health knowledge and promote fertilizer’s role in sustaining a growing population.”

Those resources include standards-based curricula for elementary, middle and high school, as well as lesson plans, posters, videos, flashcards and even an Advanced Placement “Feeding the World and Protecting the Environment” supplemental curriculum. Siergiej says the curricula are reviewed by the Smithsonian Institution and supported by nationally accredited agronomists. 

Siergiej says there are misconceptions among the public that fertilizer is unnatural or even bad, “when in fact it’s not only good for the soil and plants, it’s essential to their survival and, in the long term, ours.”

Nutrients for Life is here to clear up misconceptions.

“We know farmers are great stewards of the land and implement best practices in order to avoid nutrient loss, and our resources do a great job of explaining those practices and even include a section on enhanced efficiency fertilizers complete with a stabilized fertilizer study.” Siergiej explains.

How You Can Help

Nutrients for Life encourages ag retailers and farmers to make presentations about crop nutrients at their local schools. You don’t have to do it alone though. The organization provides six toolboxes with ready-made lesson plans for ag professionals. You can find them here.

Siergiej says you can also contact Nutrients for Life and one of the representatives will work with you on how best to make a presentation to a class in your area. You could also present at a community event like a county or state fair.

With safety issues surrounding COVID-19 right now, it might not be possible for you to physically go into a classroom. However, almost all of the materials Nutrients for Life offers are free for download at NutrientsforLife.org. Consider giving a virtual presentation or letting your local school district know these resources are available.

Anything you can do to help the mission is appreciated, Siergiej explains, saying, “Together, we can bridge the gap between ag professionals and the community in which we work.”

You and your customers know how important crop nutrients are to keeping us all alive and thriving. Now you can help others learn, too.

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