"Agriculture is the industry that feeds, fuels and provides fiber for the world. Without agriculture, what would we have?" Molly Brandt, graduate research assistant for the National Center for Agricultural Literacy and ALEC alumna said.
Brandt is researching what elementary students know and don't know about agriculture with the Masters of Applied Science program in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
"Americans are two to three generations removed from the farm, so students growing up in urban areas don't always have an understanding of agriculture," Brandt said. "If students at a young age don't understand what farmers do, misconceptions could develop and it's important the public understands what farmers are doing in the field and why."
Brandt interviewed 35 elementary students about their knowledge of agriculture to craft an assessment test that was sent to over 400 Lincoln and Grand Island students in third through fifth grade. The assessment test addresses objectives set by the National Center for Agricultural Literacy and the United States Department of Agriculture concerning agricultural literacy among elementary students.
Brandt's thesis will help gauge the level of agricultural literacy in elementary students and determine if more programs are needed to develop curriculum for teachers to implement in their classrooms. Brandt is working towards her graduate degree to follow her dream of becoming an extension educator in a rural community.
"I want to give back to organizations like 4-H and FFA that gave me the skills to become a leader," Brandt said. "When I was growing up on a farm near Platte Center, Nebraska, 4-H and FFA were huge parts of my life. I want to give kids an opportunity to have a rewarding experience like I did."
Brandt raised rabbits, poultry and livestock in high school and helped tend to crops with her family. "I wouldn't be the person I am today if it weren't for those experiences," Brandt said.
Brandt graduated from ALEC with a Bachelors of Science in Agricultural Education–Leadership with minors in Animal Science and Agricultural Business.
"The ALEC program made me more mindful of how others lead and how I want to be a leader myself. With a degree like leadership, you can really go anywhere," Brandt said. "There are so many opportunities within the agriculture industry."