August 1997 // Volume 35 // Number 4 // Tools of the Trade // 4TOT1

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Utilizing Quizzes to Teach Agricultural Literacy

Agricultural Extension educators receive numerous requests to talk about agriculture. Utilizing quizzes is a simple yet effective means of teaching agricultural literacy to diverse audiences. The quiz provides for the active participation of the audience. Questions about global, national, state, and local aspects of agriculture are distributed, with time given to answer the 15 questions. The Extension educator leads the group in answering the questions and provides additional information. Questions are created from Ohio State University Extension publications and the Annual Report of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Mark Mechling
Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources
Muskingum County
Ohio State University Extension
Zanesville, Ohio
Internet address:

Agricultural Extension educators receive numerous requests to speak about agriculture, providing an opportunity to increase agricultural awareness and knowledge among diverse community audiences. Teaching "agricultural literacy" has been identified by many local Extension advisory committees as an important issue. One simple method to teach agricultural facts is to create a quiz or list of questions for the audience to answer.

A quiz activley involves the audience. Quizzes are passed out at the beginning of the program for each person to complete. Ten-to-twelve minutes are given for participants to answer. The Extension agent goes over each question by asking for responses from the audience. Correct answers are given with background and additional information when appropriate. Transparencies using tables and graphs reinforce the answer when time and the room arrangements permit.

Questions selected examine both the "big picture" of agriculture as well as local impact. Questions involving international aspects of agriculture include the U.S.'s largest trading partners and countries that anticipate the greatest economic growth in the future. Of national relevance are questions about U.S. agricultural exports, types of meat consumed per capita in the U.S., and important agricultural commodities. Ohio's most important agricultural exports are included in the questions. The county's top agricultural commodities, examples of agri-businesses in the county, ranking of the county in the state for some specific commodities, and cash receipts for livestock and crops sold by county farmers are part of the quiz.

Several resources are used to develop the questions and answers. They include the Annual Report of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Farm Income Circular, produced annually by the Ohio State University Department of Agricultural Economics, and commodity outlook materials from OSU Extension specialists. Questions are maintained in a computer file and can be easily updated or changed when necessary.

This agricultural literacy quiz has been given to approximately three hundred individuals in the past six years. Audiences included community service clubs, educators, agricultural commodity groups, and agricultural agency personnel. Non-agricultural audiences reported that they developed a better awareness of the industry and its importance to the local economy. Farmer groups reported that they didn't realize how important exports were to agriculture. Agricultural groups were encouraged to pass this information to others.

Answering a quiz or list of questions allows the participant to be actively involved in the learning process rather than just hearing another speech. Any Extension educator could employ this simple technique as part of their teaching repertoire to increase an audience's knowledge about his or her subject matter area.