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For youth and agriculture, it's full STEAM ahead!

Today’s youth are several generations away from the farm and agriculture with a trend toward less interest in either. How food is raised, where our meals come from, and what a plant looks like are a few of the questions that are not easily answered by current society. Unfortunately, those who can give the correct answers are in the minority. Several educators and professionals are concerned by the lack of knowledge or interest in this area as well as the sciences and related topics. They have come up with a program that addresses these educational needs and it is called S.T.E.M. 

The letters stand for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and there is a growing desire to share these subjects with students of all ages. Schools are introducing concepts within indoor and outdoor classrooms, providing the young people with ideas beyond the pages of books. The hands-on applications are popular and effective in sharing the various topics relating to STEM. Libraries are also doing their part by offering kits representing the various aspects.

In Novi, MI, the Novi Public Library is one of many throughout the nation who are including the STEAM kits where the Arts are introduced and explored along with other five topics. Among their collection are some that would specifically address agriculture. One of those kits features insects with life-size models for the participants to appreciate. Some written literature is included as titles relating to the bugs are shared. The kits can be used to bridge the gap of information concerning agriculture to the public. By expanding on the kit, integrated pest control can be discussed and the importance of it to the growing of food.

There are also places where the growing of food is being used to teach more than just STEAM. These opportunities are providing lessons on time management, responsibility, and perseverance, many of the skills needed for work in agriculture. School gardens have been popular for quite a while some libraries have joined in and offered their ideas. 

Obviously, libraries can provide information in written form to encourage the reading aspect of the educational process. There are a number of books written today that provide for the lessons and additional information that broaden the learning experience. These pieces of literature range from board books for the youngest to chapter books. They are being used in storytimes and reading clubs and affect children of all ages along with those who are reading to them. 

Through the STEM/STEAM programs, agriculture can be brought back into the spotlight and understood for the important part it plays in daily life. We, as the agvocates of today, can support these efforts to bring science, technology, engineering, art, and math together with agriculture and educate a new generation of consumers and future farmers.