JUNE 2018 SEEDWORLD.COM / 65 that is misunderstood; it’s the whole premise of science. 3M recently commissioned surveys in 14 differ- ent countries, including developed and developing economies, and each country had a sample size of roughly 1,000 individuals. Countries included Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. John Timmer, a science editor with “ARS Technica,” was given a chance to look at the study and reported his findings. “Despite the cultural differences, people con- sistently feel that science has an overall positive impact on global society, and they’re excited by what we learn,” Timmer wrote. “But buried in the positives are a few areas of concern. “Most people don’t recognize the impact that science has had on their daily lives and view it as something their kids might be involved with. Yet younger people are more likely to view themselves as skeptical of science and not trusting of what scientists have discovered.” Furthermore, Timmer points out that kids are often into what their parents are into. This alone doesn’t bode well for the future of science. This is just general science. Couple that notion with the research around agricultural science, and there’s reason for alarm. In a study released March 20, more than 80 percent of high school science teachers surveyed think agricultural science is important, but only 22 percent say it makes up a part of their lesson plans. The survey, sponsored by Bayer in collaboration with National 4-H Council, found that fewer than half of the teachers surveyed felt qualified to teach agri-science. Some 48 percent believe there is less emphasis placed on learning this particular science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) today as compared to 15 years ago. Additionally, more than 1,000 parents of high school students were surveyed, of which 86 per- cent agreed that it’s important for the country’s future success to encourage pursuit of careers in agriculture. However, nearly 70 percent of respondents don’t believe their children will pursue a career in agri-science, even though data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows tens- of-thousands of jobs each year in agriculture go unfilled by qualified candidates. In fact, a study published by USDA and Purdue University reports that about 58,000 jobs are likely to open each year in food and agriculture through 2020. The strongest demand is for STEM depend- ent jobs such as plant scientists, water-resource scientists and engineers and precision ag special- ists, among others. So how do we, as part of the broader ag com- munity, promote not only a better understanding of science but careers in agri-science? A number of companies are working to address this challenge. Bayer launched its Science Matters campaign in August 2017. Monsanto has a number of initiatives it supports including the FIRST Robotics Competition; the Feed, Nourish, Thrive Campaign; Planet Forward and Net Impact. Dow AgroSciences, now a part of DowDuPont, also supported a number of activities related to STEM education. One endeavor that I got to witness in person was a hands-on plant science experiment at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Syngenta, too, has a number of efforts. One of its most recent initiatives is a science fellowship for high school teachers. DuPont has invested in My American Farm, free online games designed for students in grades K-5 to help learn math, reading, science and social studies skills in the context of agriculture. Meanwhile, there are external initiatives, such as Ag in the Classroom, First-the Seed Foundation and many more, supported by organizations and companies designed to take ag science and seed science to classrooms. As I think about this challenge and its future impact on our local communities, zoning ordi- nances, state and federal laws, and society as a whole, it’s arguably an even bigger, and more important, challenge than that of feeding 9.5 billion people by 2050 — which requires science. To me, there’s no better illustration of this than what’s happening right here in Missouri (and in many other states). There’s this family-startup which purchased their first cows in the early 90s as part of a 4-H project. To make a long story short, this 4-H project has turned into an innovative cattle company that’s looking to grow herd numbers and process the cattle on site. But the spread of inaccurate information and fear from neighbors about what this means for the local community has led to violence, protests and death threats against this family. I personally toured this farm and cattle facility, as well as the new processing area being built, and this family is an example of ag stewardship at its best. If only a basic understanding of science, farming and agriculture would prevail. This is a local family, supplying local meat — just what consumers say they want. Will society’s dismissal of science and laziness in seeking answers about farming and agriculture hinder our ability to feed the world? I hate to be pessimistic; but the erosion of science is suicide, and I mean that quite literally — one in six people in America face hunger, and around the world more than one in five children are at risk of hunger. Simply put: Denying science will mean more empty plates around the world. SW 80% of high school science teachers surveyed think agricultural science is important, but ONLY 22% say it makes up at least some of their lesson plans. 70% of parents of high school students don’t believe their children will pursue a career in agri-science. 58,000 jobs are likely to open each year in food and agriculture. through 2020.