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Risk management in Nebraska and Wyoming ag classrooms

Wayne, Neb., ag students are learning the basics of risk management from teacher Toni Rasmussen and utilizing the GrainBridge curriculum.
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Based in Omaha, Neb., GrainBridge powers a grain marketing platform for farmers equipped with access to real-time data and insights. The company is reaching out to agriculture classrooms and providing, in partnership with Farm Credit, curriculum in risk management at no charge to teachers in Nebraska and Wyoming.

Sydney Snider, GrainBridge Outreach Program director of education, said equipping teachers with tools and resources to teach risk management is the goal and lessons cover budgeting, planning, marketing strategies, crop insurance, and the many other tools producers utilize.

“The way we cover those is through 20 modules or content pieces that take students further into the decision making and concepts farmers are considering every single day when it comes to their production year,” Snider said.

On top of the resources, students and teachers are granted access to the Legacy GrainBridge platform, a risk management tool used by producers. A simulated version allows students to put into practice the concepts in their own enterprise and can see the effects of their decisions on their operation. Tracking information, like operating and input costs, and the simulation are based on live prices and basis based on their location.

“Then they can see the value of their unpriced commodities based on what the futures market looks like in addition to the basis price we’ve simulated based on what you might see from your local buyer,” she said. “Every day, they can see the change in their own production, and they can add in different types of contracts whether that is cash contracts or futures and options contracts. They can see how that is changing their revenue as well.”

Snider said the hefty amount of resources allows teachers to cater the content to their particular courses, interests and events in the agriculture market.

Toni Rasmussen teaches agriculture in Wayne, Neb., and grew up on an operation southwest of there near Albion. Being relatively close by, she is able to invest her time and resources to the family operation where her two older brothers are involved. The FFA program involves about 70 students but Rasmussen normally sees about 120 students each day in the classroom.

Agriculture business is a course she teaches each spring semester to 10-12th graders and she said GrainBridge is the best place to start.

“I have a few farm kids and they have a pretty good background, but a lot of times, kids don’t know how money is made, whether they come from the farm or not,” she said.

The curriculum made available allows her students to form a solid foundation of basic knowledge to build upon and the ability to make real world connections between the curriculum and current events and actual market prices.

With face-to-face learning on hold, Rasmussen said her ag business class has been able to continue with students’ understanding of concepts like supply and demand and global markets, concepts that have been illustrated in spades during the COVID-19 situation.

“When they hear news, they make connections about how it relates to the agriculture economy,” she said.

Contracts, she said, is a concept the curriculum expertly teaches. While she hasn’t yet been able to get as far as teaching options to her classes, the concept of forward contracts is solid.

“I hit on that pretty hard and it’s partly because of my background and partly because I think you can apply that problem solving to any economy or industry,” she said. “To me, that’s pretty valuable.”

Conversations with her soon to be graduating seniors have often turned to the economy in the times of COVID-19. With several entering into business themselves, she is heartened by their understanding as they move forward into their post-graduation plans.

The ag program in Wayne was in its first year when Rasmussen took the reins, a challenge for any teacher. She credits her first principal, a former agriculture teacher and FFA adviser, for providing support, perspective and guidance. Additionally, she said her students are engaged with the program.

“Talking about it now, I really I miss it even more than I ever thought I would,” she said. “It goes to show you that you’re where you’re meant to be.”​ ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or (970) 768-0024.


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