Cranes    Hog Farming    Mapping the 2000 Vote    New Harmony Revisited    O.S.A.E. Skills    Water Debate

In partial fulfillment of

UNL Class CI 889

This document was last updated on 21 April 2001 (Ver. 1.4.1)

Introduction      Task      The Process and Resources      Conclusion      General Comments for the Teacher

Hogging the Future - Nebraska's Farm Economy at the Crossroads

A WebQuest Lesson for Middle School Social Studies teachers and their students

This is a work in progress !

This WebQuest Lesson can easily be adapted to
geography, economics, science, and other disciplines

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The Big Question
What role will the family farm play in hog production in the 21st Century Great Plains?

Since World War II, American agriculture has experienced tremendous change. Although this is true for the nation as a whole, this has been especially true for the Great Plains region. Rural population continues to decline and rural communities struggle to retain their identity. The Great Plains agricultural sector fragments into commercial or industrial farming and family farming. Limited natural resources such as water continue to drive decision-makers both locally and at great distances from the water. Corporate farming, in chickens and more recently in pork, continue to change the face of agriculture throughout the nation, including the Great Plains. Specifically, we'll look at the pork industry and its impact on the great plains region. This WebQuest Lesson addresses these issues, provides students with opportunities to study American agriculture of the past, contact those who are involved with agricuture now, and help make decisions shaping America's agriculture of the future.

For the introductory activity, students will look at documents in their school library, at home, and on the internet which relates to the Big Question. General questions to consider are : What has American agriculture taught us? What were major agricultural advances in the past? What are some of the important issues in American agriculture nowadays? Where will American agriculture be in the future?

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In this WebQuest Lesson, middle school students will...
  • study the history of American agriculture, especially of the Great Plains
  • research major improvements in agriculture during the past two hundred years
  • comprehend major trends in modern agriculture
  • interact with decision-makers who influence economic and agricultural behavior
  • evaluate ways to influence decision-makers and promote a specific point of view

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    The Task
    In this Webquest Lesson, we're going to learn about American agriculture, concentrating on the Great Plains region after World War Two. We'll learn how agribusiness has complimented and slowly replaced family farms and ranches. We'll study the misallocation of limited resources, such as water, and identify persons and groups whose decisions matter. We'll study specific Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and the role each one plays in the agricultural debate. We'll research the recent pork production phenomena and look at how it impacts on farms and rural communities.

    The Process
    From a Nebraska - Great Plains perspective, students will read background materials on American agriculture, the history of the Great Plains farm crisis, the role of pork production in the region, and we'll design a response to changes in American agriculture and rural life.

    Sites which everyone will read are
  • History of American Agriculture : Crops & Livestock
  • Planning for a Sustainable Future: The Case of the North American Great Plains      Read "Enlarging the Great Plains meat industry" and other sections as assigned
  • After reading these sites, be prepared to summarize on one sheet of paper what you've learned Check with your teacher on the expectations for this Lesson.

    Your teacher has found some good sites on the internet for you to visit with your school computer. You and your classmates will be divided into seven research teams, based on Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and their Roles in this agricultural crisis.

    You and your team will be assigned one of the following Groups to research on this topic. Visit each of the URLs (Universal Resource Locator - web address) in your assigned Group, and take notes on paper or a new computer file. Afterwards, you'll be asked to share what you learned with your classmates, so it's important to take good notes.


    Group 1 (Federal, state and local groups who decide the future of agriculture in the Great Plains)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture      Rural America Stories September 2000
  • Nebr Department of Environmental Quality
  • Northern Great Plains Rural Development Commission

    Group 2 (Citizens - students, economists, and others who make general decisions about agriculture)

  • Packing Plants Hogging Profits? (Nov. 30, 1998)
  • Conference about Livestock Factories: "The Farm Crisis: How It Affects Rural Communities, Food Safety, and You"
  • Group 3 (Conservation and Environmentalists)

  • Corporate hog production hearings to investigate industrial - scale pork production and processing across Canada and Great Plains states (October 29 1999)
  • National Resources Conservation Service      Tidbits for Teachers and Students
  • Conservation Technology Information Center      See 9th National Nonpoint Source Monitoring Workshop (August 27-30, 2001)

    Group 4 (The media - what they're saying about pork production)

  • The Growth of the Hog Industry in North Carolina a Pulitzer Prize winning series in the Raleigh, NC News and Observer.
  • New Report Confirms Retailer and Food Processors Consolidating Swiftly with potentially huge costs for farmers and consumers
  • Ag Radio & web sites

    Group 5 (Pork producers - )

  • National Pork Producers home page      Pork4Kids
  • The US Pork Story Outlines health and marketing topics
  • Farmland Meats Group a great plains pork producer
  • Group 6 (Agricultural supplies and equipment manufacturers - rely upon pork producers for their jobs)

  • Crop Production Machinery Web lists machinery, chemical producers, electronics, oil companies, magazines and on-line services, seeds, tires, vehicles, farm buildings, other.
  • Great Plains Farming Implements
  • Tomco Chemicals maker of a bacterial formulation designed to break down solids and reduce odor
  • Group 7 (Miscellaneous)

  • America's Private Land : Geography of Hope USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Great Plains Issues lists 11 Key Issues for Great Plains Sustainability
  • Closing commodity market prices (Great Pacific Trading Company)
  • The Industrialization of Agriculture: Why we Should Stop Promoting It
  • While reading the content at these web sites, take appropriate notes on paper and in computer text files. Perhaps some of your team will research the sites while others might type the notes and prepare them for the next step. Be sure to check with your instructor for details. The study of consolidation of pork production can be a daunting task, which is why you and your team have been asked to reseach only one SIG. The larger task of understanding this important topic has been chunked into smaller, manageable sizes.

    At this point, the issue which you and your team must address is
    What does this SIG contribute to our understanding of the the impact of consolidation in the pork industry ?

    Print only the graphics (illustrations, maps and charts) which best describe the main idea. You are reminded of the Copyright Issues your teacher has discussed with you. If you use information (facts, quotations and graphics) created by others, you must cite (give the author's name, the document's title, the organization's name, URL, and date) in your final product. Again, you must obtain written permission to publish someone else's work. Your instructor can assist you in drafting a letter requesting permission.

    Each member of your team must now contribute what you have learned while visiting the SIG you were assigned. Share your knowledge with your teammates. Often the topic is so complex, you'll need to examine the details in order to reach a consensus among your group. To promote transformation (demonstate what you've learned), you must construct new meaning and synthesize what you've learned. You and your team must create a product (such as HyperStudio Stack, a tri-fold brochure using desktop publishing software, a poster, a short videotape or QuickTime file, a PowerPoint presentation, a play, or an online document) to demonstrate what you and your teammates have learned from this activity so far. You must obtain permission from your teacher before you actually begin work on your product. At the end of this activity, all of the SIGs will present their Group findings in a panel discussion for the entire class.

    Go back to the Big Question and look for examples in which the websites (URLs) you visited actually address the Big Question. What arguments are presented? Are the arguments based on fact or opinion? How do you know? After your product selection has been approved by your teacher, go ahead and work on it. Refer to notes on paper and on floppy disk. Try to verify the facts as you best understand them. When your product has been completed, you must have it approved by your teacher before you complete the final step.

    From the websites you've visited and the Real World Feedback lists shown below, select three individuals who are willing to receive your final product and to evaluate it for you. Confirm your potential list of recipients with your teacher before you contact these individuals. Your final team product will then be sent by email or postal service to the individuals for their comments. You must make a serious attempt to contact three people and request they respond by email or in writing in a timely manner. Your teacher can help you create a letter of request to send.

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    Sources for Real World Feedback

    Your group's conclusion can be sent to the following places (after your product has been approved by the instructor) for comment and evaluations (See also March's list for more choices).

    Directory of Email list servers

    Web 66 International WWW Schools Registry

    Teacher contact database

    Pitsco's Launch to Asking an Expert


    Now that we've completed our WebQuest Lesson, let's answer this important question : Has this activity addressed the Big Question? What have been the most significant points you've learned during this activity? After your internet research, analysis, product design and creation, do you have a deeper understanding of a real, gray area, challenging topic? Consider what you've learned from this experience and how you can apply that knowledge and those skills in new ways. Write a one page summary of this WebQuest activity and what's it's meant to you. Give specific examples from your research, analysis, product design and processes you used to reach your conclusions.

    Your teacher may have given you a feedback sheet or several URLs to submit your evaluation of this activity. Submit a copy of the answers to the questions listed above, plus your electronic notes, and final product to the teacher and keep a copy for yourself.

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    Terms used in this Lesson

    (WQpork.html)gen 21 April 2001