Alabama teachers and students will start the 2014 school year with a greater understanding of soybeans thanks to the Alabama Farmers Federation State Soybean Committee.
The committee contributed more than $25,000 in checkoff funds for promotional and educational activities, including donations at the State FFA Convention and the Alabama Ag in the Classroom (AITC) Summer Institute. Checkoff money is collected from state soybean farmers and is spent only for research, education or promotion.
“We figured it would be a plus for all of Alabama’s soybean producers to do some promotion within the state,” said State Soybean Committee Chairman Pat Buck “It’s the farmers’ money, and we just help look after it.”
At the State FFA Convention, volunteers handed out 2,000 soybean T-shirts to students, advisers and parents. The design displayed a soybean pod and products made from the plant, including crayons, plastic bottles, tofu, animal feed and biofuels.
“Many people don’t realize the versatility of soybeans,” said Alabama Farmers Federation Soybean Division Director Carla Hornady. “The T-shirts were a great way to let folks know that a lot of the products they use daily come from soybeans.”
Additional donations at the AITC Summer Institute armed educators with tools to teach students more about soybeans. Attendees received educational books and soy-based crayons for their classrooms.
A door-prize drawing awarded 10 lucky teachers with soybean science kits for their schools.
The kits, worth nearly $500 each, included material for 30 students to participate in 21 interactive experiments and labs in each teacher’s classroom.
The state Soybean Committee also committed $270,000 to soybean research in 2014 to support projects including development of new varieties, pest and disease prevention, improved irrigation practices and production tool development.
A recent independent study found U.S. soybean farmers receive a return on investment of $5.20 for every $1 invested in the checkoff.
Alabama’s soybean acreage has increased substantially in recent years. Farmers harvested 335,000 acres in 2012 and 425,000 acres in 2013. Planted acreage for 2014 was estimated at 500,000.