Growing the crops and farmers of tomorrow

Many students show up to school each day wondering what will be on the lunch menu. Freshmen and sophomores in Mr. Todd Tayloe’s Scholarship Biology class at Carroll High School are learning about what might be on the menu decades from now and how they might become the scientists helping solve a potential global crisis.

These students are growing corn to see how differences in genetically modified organisms and non-GMO crops affect the sizes of both fields and yields, gain a basic understanding of genetics, and learn about the way GMO products are viewed in society.

“GMOs are a big thing in the field right now and what every marketing ploy in grocery stores is going after, and I don’t think students really understand what it means for food to be genetically modified. Most students will say it’s bad, but I’ll ask them why, and they have no idea. They just say that based on what they see on food labels or what they see in European nations that are completely against GMOs,” Tayloe says. “Half the jobs in Ohio deal with agriculture, and our kids don’t really know much about that segment of careers. So it’s a way to get them interested in agro-sciences and agricultural careers.”

Over the past four years, Tayloe has been active in Ohio Corn and Wheat’s Feed the World program. Ohio Corn & Wheat invests in continuing education programs for current teachers to help fill available and future jobs in Ohio because of a skills gap.

“There’s no way we will be able to feed our world under current farming practices, so something has to be done. We either have to expand our field sizes or expand our yields. This is theoretically a way to expand our yield while reducing our field sizes.”

The project design is based on the same procedures and scientific method that students in Carroll’s advanced science classes use to conduct research. Each group of students has a bucket of GMO and non-GMO corn. Once the plants have grown to the point where they can survive some drought conditions, the students will vary the amount of water each plant receives to test the GMO plant’s ability to thrive in the harsh conditions and ultimately measure its impact on the yield.

Interested in Feed the World’s professional development opportunities? Check out our events page!

(Thanks to Carroll High School’s Reflections magazine for this information.)