Planning to Succeed: An Agriculture Finance & Business Curriculum for High School
This week's post is written by Farm Credit Knowledge Center Program Specialist Sarah Scyphers. Sarah can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve all been there, sitting in a classroom and the teacher has that day’s lesson or an introduction to a new unit and you inwardly, or out loud, groan because you know it is the beginning of the end. The end of your attention, the end of your active learning and maybe even the end of your attendance in the class. As a former educator who has spent over 12 years in a high school classroom I can relate to those feelings. I can just about guarantee that if the students are dreading the topic that much the teacher is equally as reluctant to begin the lesson. During my time in the agriculture classroom I taught everything from welding, natural resources, animal science, plant science to agriculture business. The last subject was one of my favorites but one of the hardest to teach, there was a general lack of interesting applicable curriculum available and what was available was hard to piece together with limited planning time. Also, let’s be honest, it involves a lot of math and your average student does not rush to the guidance office and sign up for a math based class on their own free will so you HAVE to make it interesting, fun and thought provoking.
When I came to work at Farm Credit I was tasked with the opportunity to take a current curriculum and make it public school friendly. I jumped on this opportunity because, as a teacher who taught this very subject, I knew EXACTLY what I would want and need when I picked up ANY curriculum. What I’ve come up with is an all-inclusive curriculum that teachers can pick up and be ready to teach an entire class or unit on agriculture finance or business development.
Financial literacy is so important that graduating seniors that many states are required to take a course in personal finance before being eligible for graduation. This is a GREAT solution to a noticed problem of financial awareness in our society today. However, as those involved in the world of any agriculture business, from landscaping to raising broilers, these businesses pose their own unique challenges so a curriculum with an agriculture emphasis is so important. In steps the Planning to Succeed Curriculum that has been developed by the Knowledge Center at Farm Credit of the Virginias. This curriculum provides lessons on everything from business structures, developing enterprise budgets, the time value of money and even personal banking. Within each lesson are bell-ringers or class starters for teachers, lesson plan outlines for administrators, presentations and note sheets for students, practice exercises and even student driven learning activities and lessons. It is interactive and calls for the student to develop their own scenarios within the business they choose, develop situations where a business owner would have to make a variety of different decisions and even developing learning activities for fellow classmates. As a former educator, I know firsthand that students learn better if they can own the material or the learning opportunities they create. This curriculum allows flexibility for the instructor to do just that and intermingle it with some traditional teaching and learning styles.
While this is aimed for the agriculture education business classrooms and curriculums it is a perfect fit for those personal finance classes that may be housed in schools where these scenarios are realistic for the students. While students may not seek careers in production agriculture they may seek jobs in the banking field where they are serving the agriculture community or manage stores that carry agriculture lines. The concepts and scenarios are applicable across so many industries and are a valuable resource for teachers and students alike who are embracing the new wave of financial literacy and awareness.
There are three teachers in Virginia who are collaborating with us to pilot this curriculum in their classrooms and help us make these lessons even better before it is rolled out publically. We are very excited to share with everyone when and how this curriculum will be available in the near future! In the meantime, stay tuned!