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STEM continued to build in 2023 with a positive outlook in 2024

April 1, 2024


3 minute read

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming continues to be a significant focus of dairy checkoffs and is highly valued by Midwest Dairy as we continue to meet educators with science-based dairy education. We know that to maintain and grow dairy consumption with youth, we need an industry-wide strategy for securing dairy’s role in school education settings over the next decade. With this knowledge, the dairy federation’s overarching goal is to ensure all high school graduates have a sufficient understanding of science and engineering. This foundation will enable students to engage in public discussion on science-related issues, be careful consumers of scientific and technical information, and pursue their chosen careers.  

The dairy checkoff is committed to this new approach in building trust with youth by helping high school curriculum writers across the country incorporate accurate science about dairy farming. Midwest Dairy is partnering with state leaders to provide professional development to high school science educators and create high-quality instructional materials.  

To support these efforts, in 2023, multiple Midwest Dairy staff attended the National Conference of Science Education in Kansas City, Missouri. This event is described as an inspirational learning space connecting the nation’s best and most engaging professionals that offers practices and strategies to help science educators shape the future of their work. There were multiple keynote speakers, panels, sessions, courses, and workshops for attendees to experience at the event. It was a space for Midwest Dairy to have meaningful conversations with state science leaders, where we uncovered dairy-focused needs and opportunities for educators.   

Midwest Dairy also hosted listening sessions with state leaders to discuss the findings of the Next Gen Science Standards Landscape Analysis and Opportunities, funded by dairy checkoff. During these sessions, 33 state leaders learned why dairy is interested in science education, critical findings from the recent report, and participated in breakouts to share more about needs in their state. These listening sessions fostered key relationships, paving the way for opportunities in 2024.  

Midwest Dairy’s efforts in 2023 to learn and build relationships within this sector will significantly impact future developments in 2024. Research shows that Generation Z truly cares about where their food comes from and has questions. In fact, 82 percent of youth find it challenging to know if their food choices are environmentally friendly, and 40 percent of youth admit to reading or talking with others about how food is grown, raised, or produced at least monthly. That’s why, when working together, checkoff can partner with science leaders in our states to help students learn about where their food comes from within their already mandatory science curriculum.