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Curriculum Matrix

Lesson Plan

Find Your Future Career (Grades 3-5)

Grade Level
3 - 5
Purpose

Students discover the variety of agricultural careers available and consider their career paths in terms of economics, interests, and suitability to their personal talents and characteristics. Grades 3-5

Estimated Time
Two 45 minute sessions
Materials Needed

Activity 1: Agricultural Career Scenario

Activity 2: Where do I stand? What tools do I use?

  • 7 large resealable plastic bags that contain some of the equipment listed on the Living Science Careers Equipment Bags List*
  • 4, 15-foot pieces of yarn; each a different color; ends tied together*
  • 4 signs printed on card stock (approximately 8 1/2" x 5 1/2"); labeled PLANT, SOIL, WATER, ANIMAL*

*These items are included in the Living Science Careers Equipment Bags, which is available for purchase from agclassroomstore.com.

Vocabulary

career: an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress; generally a profession requiring special training

Background Agricultural Connections

Explore agricultural and natural resources careers that go beyond the stereotypical farmer and rancher occupations. These careers focus on food, land, and people and significantly affect our quality of life and our environment. To assess student knowledge about agriculture and its impact on their lives, do the Source Search activity prior to this lesson. After the students complete this activity, it becomes obvious to them that there must be numerous careers in agriculture and natural resources because they learn that all the things we use every day (with the exception of services) are either grown or extracted from the natural world.

The careers highlighted in this lesson require post-high school training; many require bachelor of science degrees. The most important point to make with students concerning career education is that every industry or occupational endeavor has entry-level positions, mid-level positions, and highly skilled/educated positions. For example, most students can relate to cars. In the automotive industry you can be a car detailer (entry level), sales person, auto plant worker, or mechanic (mid-level), or an automotive engineer who designs cars. What is the difference between these positions? Salary, yes, but what is the main factor that contributes to the differences in salary? Education! For the most part, you are paid for what you know. This isn't always the case, but training or education usually pays off. The other part of your salary may be determined by how much or how hard you work. 

Your students are probably unaware of the career opportunities that make American agricultural and natural resource management systems work. Farmers and ranchers account for less than one percent of the US worforce, but the professionals supporting this industry increase that number to about nine percent, and if you count transportation and distribution, the number employed as a result of agriculture is about 20 percent. Think about a career in agriculture and natural resources.

Opportunities in jobs related to food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and the environment are expected to grow 2.6% between 2020 and 2025 for college graduates. These occupations include agricultural inspector, food scientist and technologist, soil and plant scientists, and irrigation engineer.1

Engage
  1. Ask your students the following questions:
    • Regarding a career, what do you see yourself doing in the future?
    • What are the possibilities? 
    • How much do you want to earn?
    • How much training or school do you think you will need to achieve your career goals?
Explore and Explain

Preparation:

Obtain the Living Science Career Cards. Laminate the cards, punch a hole in the upper left corner, and organize them into 14 groups as suggested below. Not all the cards will be used in this activity. Use small book rings to keep the following groups together.

  • Group 1: Soil Scientist, Forester
  • Group 2: Hydrologist, Renewable Energy Specialist
  • Group 3: Virologist, Plant Geneticist, Fisheries Scientist
  • Group 4: Biotechnologist, Environmental Scientist
  • Group 5: Toxicologist, Forest Engineer, Food Safety Specialist
  • Group 6: Entomologist, Wildlife Biologist
  • Group 7: Food Process Engineer, Nematologist
  • Group 8: Weed Scientist, Plant Pathologist
  • Group 9: Plant Physiologist, Aquaculturist
  • Group 10: Remote Sensing Specialist, Horticulturist, Range Manager
  • Group 11: Food Scientist, Turf Scientist
  • Group 12: Nutritionist/Dietitian, Florist, Conservation Biologist
  • Group 13: Animal Nutrionist, Wood Scientist
  • Group 14: Veterinarian, Agronomist

Activity 1: Agricultural Career Scenario

  1. Ask the students to list all of the agricultural and/or natural resource careers they can think of. Create a class list on the board.
  2. Add the careers cited on the career cards to the class list to display the science-related careers in agriculture and natural resources you will be discussing. These job titles are important to modern agriculture and well-maintained natural resources, but may be unfamiliar to most students.
  3. Divide the class into 14 groups. Provide each group with a set of career cards. 
  4. Ask the groups to take five minutes to read the backs of the cards to familiarize themselves with the careers, what roles they play in the agricultural community, and what education is necessary for each profession. Teacher Note: You may wish to highlight or underline key points on the cards to assist students in synthesizing this information.
  5. The education required for each career is listed on the backs of the cards, and the explanation emphasizes that students should study science, math, and English in high school in order to prepare themselves for similar subjects at the university level. Remind students that there will be entry-level and mid-level positions that support the highly-skilled occupations.
  6. Read the Career Activity Scenario Sheet and ask students to raise their hands if they think they have the career that correctly fills the blank. After each profession is answered correctly ask, "What other cards are in your group? What courses do they need to complete to get their degrees?"

Activity 2: Where do I stand? What tools do I use?

  1. Place the seven equipment bags around the classroom. Using the four pieces of yarn, arrange the pieces on the floor as intersecting circles (similar to a Venn Diagram). Place one sign in the center of each of the circles.
  2. Using the groups from Activity 1, ask the students to think about the tools and equipment they would need to perform the jobs as described on their assigned career cards.
  3. Direct each group to find the bags that contain the equipment most likely to be used in their careers. Note: Students will have to break from their groups and several students will "share" each bag.
  4. Once students have correctly identified their equipment bags, ask them to talk within their group and describe the work environment for their identified career. The teacher can perform an assessment of understanding by talking with each group of students.
  5. Following the above discussion, ask students to stand on the circle that indicates the resource(s) with which they would most likely work. For example, a student holding the "veterinarian" card would stand in the "animal" circle. However, a student holding an "aquaculturist" card may stand in the intersection of the "plant," "animal," and "water" circles.
  6. Ask each group to explain their career role in interacting with the circles identified above. Also ask students to explain how these careers might interact with each other.
Evaluate

After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:

  • There are many careers in the areas of agriculture and natural resources.
  • There are numerous agriculture and natural resources careers related to science, engineering, and business.
  • Some careers require a four-year degree, while others require a certificate or work experience.
  • While more education and higher salaries are often linked, not all careers have this relationship.
Author
Debra Spielmaker & Denise Stewardson
Organization
Utah Agriculture in the Classroom
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