Crops Feed the World

Crops Feed the World.

Iowa 4-H Crops Feed the World Lessons are designed to teach youth in grades 4 through 12 about the exciting world of crop sciences and crop production. Starting with an appreciation of what crops and farmers do for us and ending with a deeper understanding of the biology, study and production of crop plants.

The lessons are based on the experiential learning model, in which you do an activity, reflect on what was done and learned (also called sharing), and think about ways to apply what was learned to other real life experiences. By learning experientially, youth have more fun, retain their learning longer, and are better able to apply their learning experiences to new situations. Your role is to help youth share what they learned and guide them in applying what they learned to new situations.

The lessons are divided into three levels. Level one is intended for youth in grades 4 to 5, Level two for youth in grades 6 to 8, and Level three for youth in grades 9 to 12. However, youth may work through these levels as fast as they would like. Each level includes six individual lessons that can be used separately as stand-alone lessons or together for a total of six contact hours. The stand-alone lessons would work well for a variety of environments including after school lessons, in school lessons, or activities at an event. As a club project, activities could be done with the club as a whole or alone by an individual club member.


  • A lesson plan
  • An online and interactive learning module on the topic
  • Directions for two (or more) hands-on activities
  • Directions for next steps to continue learning, find more experiences, and apply learning

The lessons have been designed so that anyone can use them, youth or instructor, regardless of background knowledge or experience.  However, it is highly recommended that users seek out professionals to assist youth in mastery of the subject. This might mean visiting a local farmer or inviting an extension specialist to do an activity with you. Ideas for how to connect with professionals are provided in the "What’s Next?" sections of the lessons.

All the lesson materials are available through the Iowa State University Extension Moodle as a 4-H course. Level 1 and 2 lessons are currently available along with some tutorial videos and an introduction that explains how to use the lessons. Level 3 lessons are in progress. The introduction explains which lessons align with which Iowa Core Science Standards.

Level 1 Lesson Topics

  • LESSON 1: It starts with a seed
  • LESSON 2: Plants are alive and growing
  • LESSON 3: Plants make their own food
  • LESSON 4: Good soil, good crops
  • LESSON 5: That all-important soil
  • LESSON 6: Saving soil

Level 2 Lesson Topics

  • LESSON 1: Nutrients and fertility
  • LESSON 2: Integrated pest management
  • LESSON 3: Plants get sick too
  • LESSON 4: What’s eating my crop?
  • LESSON 5: Plants in the wrong place
  • LESSON 6: Growing degree days


We recommend utilizing the STEM General block for this program when utilizing the Common Measures evaluation tool. Iowa 4-H state or county program staff may request a paper and/or digital common measures survey for the delivery of this program by filling out this online request form.

Maya Hayslett