Regional Representatives, Melissa Bigge, Haley Siergiej and Debra Kearney recently joined the CoffeeTalk line-up to discuss all things fertilizer and nutrient education, sharing the mission and passion of their foundation, Nutrients for Life.
Nutrients for Life is a non-profit foundation that was started in 2004 by the fertilizer industry.
“In 2004, seven executives in the fertilizer industry came together to form Nutrients for Life,” Bigge says. “Their goal was to tell their own story through a fact and science-based curriculum.”
Today, the mission of Nutrients for Life is much the same as it was in 2004: to promote a holistic education on the importance of plant nutrients to feed the world. A mission that is interpreted daily through the curriculum that educates learners on the role that fertilizers play in sustainably feed the growing world population.
“The program was a grassroots concept that was built from the ground up,” says Siergiej. “The first curriculum was built in 2007, and in that first year, 25 pieces of curriculum went out. Today, we have more than a 3.5 million reach, annually. In the last few years, we have gone more digital, and that has helped to get our message out, as well.”
The Nutrients for Life team consists of seven passionate individuals, all who wear many hats in achieving growth through innovative outreach. The small, but mighty, team continues to develop new avenues to connect with educators while increasing relevance and credibility for the curriculum.
In a given year, the Nutrients for Life curriculum that enters the classrooms of millions of students across the country is always developed by the Nutrients for Life team and reviewed by both agronomists and the Smithsonian, with collaboration from the Fertilizer Institute. To further reach, the team has created “toolboxes” and partnered with professionals in the agriculture industry to serve as ambassadors for the curriculum.
In addition to classroom outreach, the foundation also provides professional development for educators.
“It’s great for us to be able to share the message (of nutrient management and education) with teachers,” Kearney says of the “train the trainer” development the team offers. “We will, in a normal year, do five to ten professional development workshops in our states.”
The curriculum is a fit for grades K-12, with many college instructors also adopting the soil science curriculum.
“Our target reach is always the educator: science teachers, ag teachers, homeroom elementary teachers; our tool is diverse and we want it (the curriculum) to be shared with students,” Kearney shares, offering that, in a normal year, the team also organizes an in-person national conference.
And our national conference brings in agronomists and other professionals that educators can learn from. Last year it was virtual, but we normally switch the city where it is hosted, every year, so more educators can attend,” she says.
To learn more about how the Nutrients for Life team has pivoted to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19, and what is in store for 2021, watch the full webinar, found on the AGI SureTrack Community page, Facebook, Anchor and our YouTube channel.