Did you know that agriculture is a major economic driver in Louisiana—bringing in over $12 billion dollars each year? Did you know that the top money producers are soybeans, beef cattle, aquaculture, feed grain, horses, sugar cane, forestry, poultry, rice and marine industries? Although many of these products are food-related, each day one in four children living in Louisiana struggle with hunger. This is called food insecurity—not having access to sufficient, healthy food. Food security is the opposite—having access to sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
- THE BIG QUESTION: How can we grow our products in a way that balances production as well as economic, environmental, and societal needs?
- OUR BIG CHALLENGE: Work as a team to imagine, design and prototype a Louisiana farming solution to increase food security in your life, community, or world.
Solving this challenge will require thinking beyond opening more grocery stores—we are asking you to consider “systemic” approaches to food production from biotechnology, food production and environmental considerations or take an “agroecological” approach. Here is a quick overview of the lesson (some of which could be ignored as time available allows), which can be downloaded (Project PDF).
1. Introduction to Challenge: Watch YouTube introduction HERE.
2. Overview of Issue
- Watch an intro to the issue of sustainable agriculture for a growing population: How did we so big, so fast?
- Discuss meaning of the words "sustainable farming and ecoagriculture" and important elements.
- Teams investigate sustainability focus area: soil, bees, weeds, dead zones, phosphorous & fossil fuels, & groundwater. Each group led by a facilitator who has been equipped with info specific to subject area. Students read/discuss issue and make flowchart of how how each affects the environment on poster
- Watch YouTube introduction of various technologies used in farming today and discuss possibilities.
3. Introduction to BIG Challenge
- Introduce Engineering Design Process
Introduce Challenge | Choose a Louisiana Crop
- ASK (what is the problem): As agricultural engineers, research a Louisiana farm product and best management practices to develop a model sustainable farm product using the agroecological elements: Efficiency; Self-sufficiency; Diversity; and Resilience; Final projects must utilize some kind of technology to improve sustainability, access, and environmental concerns.
- RESEARCH (+ choose a crop): Farming best practices for Louisiana crops (from the LSU Ag Center)
- IMAGINE Solutions
- CREATE a Plan
- DESIGN a Model Farm (using everyday recycled materials)
- TEST and IMPROVE
- SHARE (present model)
- Score projects according to a rubric: Evidence of research; Planning documentation; Use of best practices; Innovative use of technology; Creativity; Construction of model; Oral presentation. See project link.
Using AgExplorer site, allow students an opportunity to take an interest survey and learn about the countless careers in agriculture
4. View other students' projects and post yours! Student Project Videos!