Farmers and Growers

Social Studies and Language Arts Activity

Students research the roles of western farmers and growers.



  1. Tell students that there are many different kinds of farmers and growers in the West. There are enough, in fact, so that each of them might represent a different one. Each of them is to gather as much information as he or she can about one such farmer or grower and role-play what it is like to do that kind of growing.

  2. Explain that there are many specialty crops grown in the West. Tell students that the reference books you have gathered (and others they can find in the library) will help them learn more about farming and growing in the West. Have students work in teams to develop a list of the different roles they might play; for example, operator of an orange grove in California, owner of an apple orchard in Washington, manager of a pineapple plantation in Hawaii. Then assign or have students sign up for their roles.

  3. Suggest that as students research their roles, they keep the following issues in mind, just as they would if they really engaged in growing that particular crop:

  4. Organize role-players into panels of four or five students, with panels scheduled over a period of several days. Have each student make a three-to-five-minute oral presentation using visual props and/or graphic representations. Allow time for about a ten-minute question-and-answer session. Tell questioners that they should apply what they have learned about their own crop to develop their questions.


Make copies of and distribute small maps of the West. Have students outline or highlight the states in which they are growers and label them with the names of their crops. Have students transfer the same information to a large map of the West, labeling and signing each location.

Students should learn from this activity that farmers share similar concerns. Convene a farmers and growers "convention" around one such issue. Attendees can share concerns and likely solutions. Possibilities might include such topics as alternatives to chemical fertilizers, developing foreign markets, and forming advertising cooperatives.

Have students find statistics about each crop and create a graph based on what is produced each year. Graphs might be specific to one state and show change over several years. Or they might compare two different crops.

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