Stanislaus State Announces Partnership With National Ag Science Center



​Stanislaus is the second-highest producing agriculture county in California, but the industry’s bounty extends beyond the grapes, almonds and other crops that thrive in the valley’s rich soil and dry heat. 

Growing the understanding about the vast opportunities in the agriculture industry for students of all ages is behind the partnership between Stanislaus State and the Stanislaus County-based National Ag Science Center, which announced its alliance during a news conference last fall.

“So much of what we do at Stan State has relevance to the agriculture industry—be it in science, computer science, arts, behavioral health, public policy, etc.,” said Dr. David Evans, dean of the College of Science at Stan State. “This partnership with the National Ag Science Center can help to bring attention to these cross-curricular relationships and will create new opportunities for the university to serve the agriculture community in our region.” 

The partnership gives the National Ag Science Center, founded in 1996, a greater platform from which to operate and qualifies the center for additional grant opportunities. Meanwhile Stan State increases its outreach in ag and STEM fields.

The ag science center’s most prominent feature is its Ag in Motion mobile classroom, which made a stop at Stan State for the announcement. 

Inside the movable feast are labs that 15,000 students—all seventh- and eighth-graders in Stanislaus County, south San Joaquin County and a portion of Merced County—experience throughout the school year.

Hands-on lab activities include “CSI Strawberry,” where students extract DNA from one of the 200- seed pieces of fruit, and “Astronaut Farmer,” where students determine whether crops can be grown on the moon. A microscope allows students to look at magnified bugs in the “Zombie Bug Lab.” 

“It’s an amazing opportunity. I truly, truly love it,” said Andres Dorado, a 2018 Stan State graduate who teaches the classes in Ag in Motion. “Most of these students don’t have any experience or opportunity to perform hands-on experiences in their classrooms, because many of the schools I visit do not have actual laboratories. It’s really nice giving these students the experience of learning about agriculture and science in a hands-on setting.”

Stan State ag students visit third-grade classrooms of local schools as Ag Ambassadors, and Dr. Oluwarotimi Odeh, professor and Rolland Starn Endowed Chair in Agriculture, who oversees the program, embraces the partnership. 

“The opportunity I see here is to ask questions about how to be more engaged,” he said. “We need someone to work with them, to help them learn how to teach young kids in classrooms.”

Further, the National Ag Science Center has built relationships with ag industry-related businesses, which Dr. Odeh said will benefit Stan State students. 

“I see overlap, a lot of opportunity to work together,” he said. “We can tap into resources they have, use connections they have already made.” ​