Ag Education Interns Get Firsthand Experience in Kansas Corn Industry

Kansas State University’s agricultural education student interns took their learning outside of the classroom as they participated in the first “Ah-Maize-ing Adventure”, a corn-focused high impact learning opportunity (HILO.) The tour across northwest Kansas in early March was sponsored by the Kansas Corn Commission and gave the students first hand experiences with the corn, ethanol and livestock industries.

The tour was especially beneficial to Will Johnson, a student teacher at Cimarron High School. This fall, his job will include starting a new agricultural education program in the southwest Kansas town of Sublette.

“In southwest Kansas, where I will be teaching, all you see is corn being grown, corn being fed to cattle and then also being made into ethanol,” Johnson says. “Corn is a huge industry and it’s a segment that needs to be talked about in class. My classmates and I really appreciate the Kansas Corn Commission and the farmers across Kansas for sponsoring this opportunity and helping us better educate today’s youth.”

Led by K-State agricultural education faculty members, 19 students began the HILO on Thursday with a tour at Trego Community High School to learn about the school’s agricultural education program. They followed with a farm tour at Heier Farms in Grainfield, where they met with a panel of young farmers to discuss farm technology and concepts. Then they toured Western Plains Energy, LLC and Pioneer Feedyard in Oakley to learn more about where the corn goes once it leaves the farm.

“The most beneficial part of today was talking to farmers and industry professionals that have been in the shoes of our students,” says Jake Rutledge, student teacher at Norton Community High School, “From the knowledge gained today I plan on teaching hard skills, or life skills that students can use in their careers and in their daily lives.”

Friday morning, the group visited SureFire Ag in Atwood to gain more knowledge of precision agriculture, a growing career field for their future students. They concluded the HILO with a tour of the agricultural education program at Norton Community High School.

“Getting out there with the producers and having the opportunity to experience ethanol and beef production was very beneficial” says Melissa Poet, who is currently student teaching at Thunder Ridge High School in Kensington. “I grew up in eastern Colorado where we mostly grew wheat so I actually didn’t know a lot about corn. So to me as a future educator it was very beneficial in helping me understand more about this industry.”