Lesson Plan Guide: Growing Green

By Matt Andrews

TITLE: Growing Green: Emerging Careers
CONTENT AREAS: Explore Your Path


1-1: Students understand their choices of post-secondary options and careers.


• Increase their awareness of and general knowledge about emerging career fields.
• Predict other fields of work that are likely to grow and/or change in the years ahead.
• Reflect on personal interests and how they may be related to any of the career fields suggested over the course of the activity.
• Read a short selection about an emerging career field (Agricultural Science).
• Students will complete a series of questions regarding the reading. These questions will concentrate students’ focus on the following:
    o reasons for recent growth in this field
    o educational and/or training paths taken by current professionals in this field
    o ways interested students can become involved/gain experience in the spotlighted field
• Make predictions about other career fields that may see growth in the coming years and provide a well-reasoned rationale.


  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1a Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1b Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.

  • C:A1.2 Learn about the variety of traditional and nontraditional occupations
  • C:B1.8 Understand how changing economic and societal needs influence employment trends and future training


Prior knowledge of recent developments in agriculture would aid the total impact on students.   


Online access to mystudentpath.com or class set of readings from Student Paths
Big screen or whiteboard to present online article and discussion questions


Anticipatory Class Discussion (5 minutes)
What is Green Agriculture?
To motivate the discussion, either present on a screen or read excerpts of this blog that explain some history of Sustainable Agriculture to students:
Point out to students that the blog was from 2009, and ask students:
Is going green more or less popular now than it was in 2009 and 1999?
Spark further interest in green agriculture by asking if anyone in the class is up to date on laws for genetic modification and organic certification, and the green revolution.

Content Reading, Questions (5 minutes)
Direct attention to article in Student Paths or on mystudentpath.com.
Instruct students to read “Growing Green.”

While students read, present the following questions on a big screen or whiteboard.

Student Questions:
1. Dr. Haagenson is an agricultural research specialist in biosystems. What kinds of tasks does his work require?
2. List the degrees Dr. Haagenson has received and his career experiences.
*3. How can students gain experience and see if their interests fit with a career possibility?
*4. Why is green energy and agriculture so popular today?
*5. What other fields or careers may be popular in 10 years?

* Students may begin with the reading to answer questions 3, 4, and 5, but they will have to brainstorm in a group to generate additional ideas and reasons for a full response.

After everyone in the class has read the article and had a moment to consider their own answer to the questions, it is time to begin the small-group discussion.
Small-group Discussion (10-12 minutes)
Divide class into groups of 3 to 5 students.
Instruct students to complete the questions on the board through group discussion.

Instructor should circulate about the room to add insight and answer student questions as necessary.

Suggested answer key for group discussion:

1. Dr. Haagenson is an agricultural research specialist in biosystems. What kinds of tasks does his work require?
Researching canola oil and canola biodiesel quality, working with others to turn canola seed into a fuel that is efficient, cheap and protective of the environment.
Encourage further examples of what would be done in research that is not included in the article. Haagenson probably works with chemical tests and analyzes numbers using advanced computer software. He publishes research and teaches classes.

2. List the degrees Dr. Haagenson has received and his career experiences.

Bachelor’s degree in biology from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn.
Master’s degree in plant sciences from North Dakota State University
Doctorate in agronomy from Purdue University
He does agriculture research for the Department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering at North Dakota State University.

*3. How can students gain experience and see if their interests fit with a career possibility?
Participate in science fairs in high school     
Through a volunteer or work-study position in a lab early in college
Encourage students to brainstorm beyond the article. This could include things such as taking classes or finding internships (similar to work study).

*4. Why is green energy and agriculture so popular today?

Answers may vary; encourage reflection on popular opinions.
You may suggest historical significance of National Parks in 1900, oil spills in the 1970s, and Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Resources for students and instructors with further interest:  Wikipedia has lots of information, and students find it interesting because of the controversies over the way entries are written.

*5. What other fields or careers may be popular in 10 years?
Encourage brainstorming and speculation and remind students that even government experts in growing businesses must rely on an educated guess.

US News and World Report lists these 10 professions from 2012, with their number of online openings:
1. Computer Occupations: 859,833
2. Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners: 443,611
3. Other Management Occupations: 196,199
4. Financial Specialists: 184,312
5. Business Operations Specialists: 183,574
6. Sales Representatives, Services: 178,859
7. Engineers: 177,581
8. Information and Record Clerks: 177,194
9. Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, Public Relations, and Sales Managers: 168,646
10. Supervisors of Sales Workers: 164,610

Conclude the discussion by asking students to continue to think about what kinds of careers, fields of work, and disciplines in schools may exist in 10 and 20 years. Suggest that we all think about what did not exist 20 years ago and what kinds of jobs have emerged recently, and then suggest thinking into the future about where different fields are going.

It is difficult to predict what will happen in 20 years, but career decisions now will matter in 20 years. Now is the time to try out lots of different things and look for new opportunities that are likely to grow in the future.

About the Author

Matt Andrews

Matt Andrews

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