+ Kansas Corn Commission

Building the “Cadillac of professional development” in 120 days

Kansas Corn needed a turnkey solution to launch an education program in 90–120 days that would help students understand the science of modern agriculture.

Our relationship started in 2014 when the wife of a Kansas Corn Commission (KCC) board member, who is a teacher, attended a professional development workshop. She was inspired by the energy and engagement of other teachers in Ohio and believed passionately that the teachers in Kansas deserved this kind of curriculum and training and she began to advocate to the commission.

In early 2016 funds were appointed to the commission to launch an education campaign of significance. We met with the commission leadership for the first time in March at the 2016 Commodity Classic and discussed how to establish a program. We decided the most efficient way to meet their summer 2016 deadline was to leverage the curriculum created for the Ohio Corn & Wheat Association, adding some relevant lessons to this existing body of work.


Time was short, the Kansas Corn staff and our education team together brainstormed a vision for 2020. We then worked our way back to determine how to thread important elements of the 2020 vision into the short term.


A few tactical and strategic goals that directed our planning:

  • Evangelize 250 teachers and expose 25,000 student to the content
  • Be respected leaders of science educators
  • Be known nationally
  • Build online resources and community
  • Connect urban and rural
  • Produce the “Cadillac” of professional development for ag science

After the first stage of the strategic process three challenges/opportunities emerged:

  1. We had excellent content that could be used by more educators (curriculum, labs, photography, stories).
  2. We needed to identify leaders who would sustain the work in Kansas.
  3. We needed to establish a network of educators to promote our resources

Working with Ohio Corn & Wheat, Kansas Corn, and other stakeholders, we agreed that the program needed a separate brand, exclusive to Kansas. The strategic team knew a web portal would be important to continue the conversation after training as well as have a great place to hold content and updates.



Due to time and financial constraints we used the content gathered in the strategy phase and altered some proven curriculum to meet the client needs. We accelerated the instructional design but gathering the all the education specialists including some of our teacher leaders in the network. Our first pilot would be the summer workshop, and we decided for initial outreach a test run of critical labs at a spring teacher conference would be helpful. We practiced the new lab elements in-house and designed a operational method for working our first out-of-state client. This included securing space in Kansas, finding project leaders in Kansas, and finding an intentional path to introducing ourselves to this community through the commission and the education network.

Research included looking at other Kansas-based education programs, specifically in science and agriculture. The communications and engagement planning group determined that this program would be a first of its kind and offered a few brand packages to the leadership team at the Kansas Corn Commission. This process culled more information from the client on expectations and positioning.



Using some of the proven programs we began promotion at the spring meeting of the Kansas Association of Science Teachers annual conference. Our outreach plan was to gauge interest and either host a 2016 summer workshop or wait until the following summer so that we could secure participants. Staging a table-top in the lobby of the conference center, our teachers, dressed in lab coats, engaged conference attendees one by one. Additionally, we hosted a 2-hour session teaching ag biotechnology skills which gave a taste of the upcoming workshop.

Outreach results: registration for the summer workshop was full by the end of the 2-day conference and knew there was a demand for the program.

The team delivered a Seed to STEM teacher workshop in July of 2016. The online resources included a website launched in May and gave the teachers an opportunity to learn about the program before the summer workshop. It also gave us a much needed place to post content, new curriculum and collaborate with a new teacher network and partners. Industry-ed connections were made at the dinner and during the tour of a nearby ethanol plants. Partners were connected to the online resources to post up any follow up or new ideas.

Timeline: 6 months


  • Designed and delivered 2-day teacher professional development workshop
  • Registered all attendees (32) at a two-day teacher workshop
  • Existing content and custom instructional design included curriculum and labs
  • Engagement with industry and education around agriculture science