The Kansas Corn Experience:

Student Teachers Gain Experience in Corn Industry Through EPIC Tour

By Emily Koop, Eastern Kansas Corn Crew Rep and Market Development Coordinator

The end of February came to a close with an incredible learning opportunity for soon-to-be Kansas agricultural education teachers. Kansas State University’s agricultural education program partnered with Kansas Corn to host the Kansas Ag Education Enhancing Pre-Service Instruction with Corn (EPIC) experience for their graduating seniors. The two-day tour of east central Kansas included informative stops at agricultural education programs in the state and visits to a variety of different industry partners.

The experience began with a visit to Midland Genetics, a family owned seed company in Ottawa. Students saw where corn production all begins by touring their facility and farm. They discussed new technologies in agriculture and how school programs can partner with industry to tie research and technology into their classrooms. Moving past production, the group visited the BNSF railway loading facility to discover more about how corn and other products are transported across the nation and the world. Big takeaways were discovering unique career opportunities and a great discussion on how to prepare students for the role future automation may play in the transportation industry. The final stop was visiting an end user of corn, East Kansas Agri-Energy (EKAE) in Garnett. EKAE has been a longtime friend of education and the team there is always willing to host tour groups and teach students about the science behind ethanol production and share opportunities for high school students in STEM.

Additional tour stops included visiting agriculture education classrooms and programs in the area. There was a wide variety of programs the group gained exposure to including both small and large schools, programs in rural areas, and a program right outside of Olathe. Students were able to explore different agriculture mechanic shops and greenhouse set-ups and gather ideas for their own programs. In addition, students had a chance to ask questions to both new and experienced teachers and receive advice for their first year teaching. The experience was full of impactful moments for the graduating seniors and all were looking forward to how they could incorporate all they learned into future lessons and create similar learning opportunities for their own students.