South Dakota State University Extension has launched a new educational program for middle school science teachers, homeschoolers and 4-H youth program advisors.

The curriculum, developed by Krista Ehlert, assistant professor and SDSU Extension Range Specialist is for those looking to add a sustainable agriculture curriculum to their lesson plans. It is a plan designed for children in grades six through eight.

The curriculum was from a grant funded by the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. Other personnel involved in the project are Christine Wood, SDSU Extension 4-H Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Field Specialist and Jessalyn Bachler, SDSU Extension Range Field Specialist.

Ehlert pointed out that the curriculum will increase agricultural literacy among South Dakota teachers, youth and their families. He added that it will strengthen and highlight the importance of agriculture, understanding where food comes from and communicating how ranchers act as land stewards all across our state,”

The curriculum involves is made up of four modules that will help students learn about sustainable agriculture from a rangeland lens. The modules include an overview of rangelands, rangeland plants, rangeland animals and soil. Each module has several interactive and hands-on activities for students to learn from and to foster critical thinking skills about one of the most important land resources in South Dakota. Next Generation Science Standards and South Dakota Science Standards have been outlined as part of each module.

meanwhile, there is another part of the program that will be developed over the coming months and facilitated by Ehlert and her team. It involves field trips to local ranches that will allow students to interact with and experience a working ranch.

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