Students who are enrolled in Rondout Valley High School’s Introduction to Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources class are participating in the Mac & Cheese Challenge hosted by New York Agriculture in the Classroom.
The class introduces students to a range of agricultural opportunities and the potential pathways of study
available to them. They learn to solve problems, research, analyze data, work in teams, and take responsibility for their work, actions, and learning.
Through the Mac & Cheese Challenge, students developed their own macaroni and cheese recipe, which they called “A Bowl of Zest.” The spicy, creamy, crunchy twist on traditional macaroni and cheese highlights New York state dairy products, a selection of Cabot cheeses melted to perfection, and is topped with a crispy combination of breadcrumbs and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The recipe includes local milk from Hudson Valley Fresh, butter from Ronnybrook Farm Dairy, and hot sauce made by Big E’s Deli in Cottekill. The class also created marketing materials for their product and overall, learned about the dairy processing industry in the community.
This year, the Rondout Valley Central School District hired Mackenzie Lawrence as a K-12 agriculture teacher to assist in growing the agriculture program at Rondout Valley, and to develop a pathway to graduation for students. She was thrilled to bring this opportunity to Grade 9 students.
“We find ourselves lucky to live in New York where so many delicious cheese varieties are produced,” she said in a press release. “The dairy industry is the largest agricultural sector in the state and makes more than one billion pounds of all cheeses annually. All to say, our location alone made this project a great learning experience for our students.”
The class will soon submit its macaroni and cheese recipe to the challenge, along with a photo of the final product and its marketing element, which will be a video. The projects will be judged based on the use of dairy products, inventiveness, authenticity, accuracy of student recipes, and creativity and effectiveness of the marketing material.
New York Agriculture in the Classroom will announce the winners in December.