Farm to Fork: Sustainable Ag for Minnesota Teens

December 6, 2022
With support from an NCR-SARE Youth Educator grant, Navreet Mahal and Mriganka De paired up to develop a sustainable agriculture educational program for high school students called "Farm to Fork." Photo courtesy of Navreet Mahal.

Youth Educator grants are a way NCR-SARE helps introduce new and exciting farming and ranching options to youth, families, and community members.

Navreet Mahal grew up in a farming family in India before completing a Ph.D. in Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. While working at South Dakota State University in 2021, Mahal paired up with Mriganka De at Minnesota State University, Mankato, to develop a sustainable agriculture educational program for high school students. Called Farm-to-Fork, the program launched at what Mahal said was a pivotal moment for youth and sustainable agriculture.

“Youth today have limited knowledge about agriculture and are losing interest in considering it as a career option,” said Mahal.

Collaborating with the local farmers, Mahal and De introduced 15 high school students at Mankato East/West High School in Minnesota to sustainable agriculture practices.

Students learned about sustainable agricultural production systems and related environmental issues during the Farm-to-Fork program. They participated in class discussions and field tours. They directly interacted with farmers and ranchers and learned about the farm’s sustainable production and marketing methods.

During a field visit to Jared Luhman’s Grassfed Cattle Co., students learned about their farm-to-table approach to direct production and marketing. At Sam Ziegler’s Green Seam Farm, the students learned about corn-soybean rotation, soil erosion issues, and soil health management practices like cover crops. At both farms, students got hands-on experience collecting soil samples with scientific tools and worked on their data analyses and interpretation skills.

“The Farm-to-Fork program provided opportunities for the youth to learn about agriculture directly from the scientists, farmers, and ranchers that create an awareness of the importance of sustainable agriculture and different career options in this field,” said Mahal.

Dig Deeper

NCR-SARE starts accepting Youth Educator proposals in August, due in November. Learn more here.

SARE’s “Sustainable Agriculture Resources and Programs for K-12 Youth” is a guide to sustainable agriculture-oriented educational opportunities for schoolchildren. It features more than 85 programs and curricula nationwide. The guide includes direct links, contact information, and ideas for integrating lessons into school programs.

Want more information? See the related SARE grant:

Topics: Youth Education
Related Locations: Minnesota, North Central, South Dakota