Elementary school students explore the roots of agriculture with Seed Survivor Mobile Classroom

Posted 9:26 a.m. on Wednesday, January 25, 2023

LAPLACE – Local elementary school students had the opportunity to become virtual farmers, dig for fossils and plant sunflower seeds last week thanks to Nutrien Ltd.’s Seed Survivor mobile classroom, a tool interactive educational tool that instills the importance of agriculture in the next generation.

The Seed Survivor program reaches approximately 100,000 students across North America each year, according to Chloe Specker, Nutrien’s education program coordinator. The mobile classroom arrived in Louisiana in November 2022 and will remain in the state until February 24.

Last week, Seed Survivor visited students in grades two through five at West St. John Elementary, Ascension of Our Lord Catholic School, and Fifth Ward Elementary. Students learned that their food starts on the farm, not at the grocery store, and that healthy crops need nitrogen, phosphate and potassium.

“Our hope is to get kids interested in farming, build their confidence in growing healthy plants, and understand where their food comes from,” Sprecker said.

Lynda Danos, state coordinator for the Louisiana Farm Bureau’s Agriculture in the Classroom program, called Seed Survivor a fun and engaging way to teach students and a great resource for teachers.

Fifth Ward Elementary science teacher Melissa Shuhart said Seed Survivor’s activities fill a gap in the existing curriculum.

“Our program has changed and I no longer teach plants. We used to start with the plants,” Shuhart said. “It will help on the LEAP test if they have agricultural questions, especially since Louisiana is such an agricultural state. Students learn how many things are grown and raised here. Louisiana is unique, so when we hear how much stuff we grow here, it’s an added bonus.

Inside the mobile classroom, students participated in a variety of games introducing them to the water cycle, livestock by-products, soil types found around the world and much more. The children learned that only 3% of the land can feed the world. In a demonstration with volunteers from Nutrien, students looked at a bottle of water representing the water that covers 70% of the earth, then watched as it was poured into the small cap to represent the supply in fresh water.

The students were also challenged to think about how they will feed the world in 2050, when the world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion people.

Fifth Ward student Bentley Cheney learned that there are many ways to plant a seed. He also enjoyed learning about waterways and different types of nutrients.

“It’s important to learn about this so you can grow food and crops to stay alive,” he said.

Fifth Ward student Matthew Lane said Seed Survivor taught him the components necessary for plants to survive and grow.

“The Earth needs plants because they have the resources we need,” Matthew said. “Trees produce wood, and we need wood to build things. We need vegetables to have good things that we humans can eat.

Local educators were encouraged to continue the conversation in the classroom by accessing resources and games on seedsurvivor.com.

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