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New partnership promotes ag science
Ag Science Center
National Ag Science Center, Stanislaus State and Turlock High School FFA members gather Wednesday for the unveiling of a historic partnership between the university and National Ag Science Center (Photo contributed).

A new partnership between Stanislaus State and the Modesto-based National Ag Science Center was announced this week that aims to increase visibility for the university’s agriculture program through funding, outreach and hands-on learning opportunities.

“I think that this partnership will expand the reach of the Ag Science Center by really combining the resources and intellectual capacity of the university with those of the center,” Stanislaus State Dean of the College of Science Dr. David Evans said. “The term win-win is way overused, but it’s never been more appropriate than it is for this partnership.”

The National Ag Science Center was founded in 1996 and has developed learning programs in partnership with the Stanislaus community, the agriculture industry and educational institutions. In 2011, Ag In Motion was launched as a mobile classroom that reaches every seventh and eighth grade classroom in Stanislaus and south San Joaquin counties to deliver innovative science and agriculture curricula. Thanks to the new partnership, which will make more grant funding available to both entities, Ag In Motion will now visit elementary school classrooms as well, introducing students to ag concepts earlier in life and hopefully spurring an interest in the industry that will see them eventually attend Stanislaus State.

“There are so many untapped opportunities right here for our next work force, who are the next generation of what happens in the ag science industry,” National Ag Science Center Executive Director Emily Lawrence said.

According to Stanislaus State President Ellen Junn, the partnership will benefit not only elementary-aged students, but the 80 college students already participating in the university’s agriculture undergraduate degree program and its future participants as well. Collaboration between the two organizations, and in turn local agriculture companies, will allow the university to tailor its course offerings to the needs of the ag community, she said, by facilitating an “increased, healthy discourse” among the region’s top farmers and food processors in the area.

“We live in the richest ag center in the nation, and it seems like almost everything we teach and study at Stan State could actually be tied to ag,” Junn said. “This partnership will bring attention to those commonalities and almost everything we do here at Stan State, and show how it is connected to the ag-based region that we serve.”

Turlock High School senior and FFA member Paris Cabral recalls participating in Ag In Motion in junior high, but thinks the program at the elementary level will have an impact on the region’s future.

“It will open up younger kids to ag earlier on, and hopefully get them excited about being in FFA and then keep going into college and ag-related industries,” Cabral said. “I think it’s really cool because instead of having to go to ag schools like Cal Poly, it’s great to have a local university that has a great ag program, too.”