- The latest example in a growing trend among rural schools, Hagerstown Junior-Senior High School in Indiana is having students enrolled in an agricultural science class raise cattle that will ultimately be served in the school's cafeteria.
- The hands-on agricultural class begins in the next academic year and is similar to a programs in Michigan, California, and various Midwestern states that see student-raised meat and produce served in school cafeterias.
- The trend is the result of population decline in rural communities that has not only led to a decline in local farmers, but to a decrease in per-pupil funding, as well.
These programs serve two purposes for rural communities. First, they combat the decreased per-pupil funding resulting from significant population decline in the wake of the recession by supplying school cafeterias with cheaper — and, notably, healthier — food options. Additionally, they aim to produce more farmers to boost falling numbers in that field, as a USDA report released this month shows the total number of U.S. farmers fell almost 20% (though the same report showed a small increase in new farmers under the age of 35 between 2007 and 2012). Ultimately, due to their potential overall impact on the food supply and school budgets, these programs are just as important in rural communities as STEM education is made out to be nationwide, and it should come as no surprise if they become commonplace throughout the Midwest in particular.