Top Cut: A Beef Contest
New York Agriculture in the Classroom and the New York State Beef Council partner each year to offer an exciting cross-curricular program for middle and high school students to engage with and understand beef production. This experiential learning contest allows students to creatively develop a marketing strategy for a product of their choice, while learning about the multitude of agricultural careers and skills it takes to develop and sell a product. Students will also learn about beef production and beef nutrition as a result of participation.
Students will work as a group to develop a marketing and nutrition plan for a beef-centric product or recipe.
3rd through 12th grade students working in groups or as a classroom in New York State are eligible to participate. Pre-registration is required in the respective grade divisions. Multiple groups or classrooms from the same school may participate. FFA chapters, home school groups, and private schools are also eligible to participate.
- Elementary School (3rd - 5th Grade)
- Middle School (6th – 8th Grade)
- High School (9th – 12th Grade)
Pre-Registration is open until October 11, 2019
Contest submissions are due December 19, 2019
Winners will be announced no later than February 6, 2020
Prizes for this contest are generously awarded by the New York Beef Council.
- Prizes per division include:
- 1st Place - $250, barbeque grill, and a banner to be displayed in the school or community
- 2nd Place - $100 and a banner to be displayed in the school or community
- 3rd Place - $50 and a banner to be displayed in the school or community
- A banner to be displayed in the school or community
- 1st place winners will receive a barbeque grill
You are encouraged to partner with a local beef producer to encourage your students to learn about the entire beef production system. If you would like assistance in identifying a beef producer in your area, please contact Katherine Brosnan with the New York Beef Council with your interest.
All classrooms must pre-register to participate in the contest. With preregistration, your classroom will receive a True Beef DVD and paired curriculum guide valued at $30 provided at no cost courtesy of New York Agriculture in the Classroom.
True Beef: From Pasture to Plate (DVD) – This is an innovative educational documentary that follows high school students as they learn about the entire process of beef production. The documentary features culinary and agricultural high school students and is designed to teach students where their food comes from while learning the importance of farming and ranching.
True Beef Educator Guide – This series of lesson plans supports the documentary "True Beef". The guide contains 8 lessons designed to follow along with the chapters in the documentary. STEM connections have been included for all lessons and it is easy for teachers to make connections across the curriculum.
Beef for the Classroom Grant
The final page of your contest pre-registration will be an application for the Beef for the Classroom Grant. By filling out this short application you can earn up to $100 reimbursed for purchasing beef products for your students to cook with during your recipe development. Learn more about Beef for the Classroom from the New York Beef Council.
- Use this document to learn more about the contest and four categories of a marketing plan students will need to develop and submit.
- Use the provided template to guide your students through each step of the project.
- The marketing plans will be judged by a panel of beef producers and educators (see rubric for judging criteria).
Additional Lessons and Classroom Tools
- Beef Basics Lesson (Grades 3-5)
Students will explain the importance of the beef cattle industry including the products the cattle produce, the production process from farm to plate, and how cattle can utilize and obtain energy from grass and other forage.
- Roll of the Genes (Grades 3-5)
Students will learn about genes and how they affect certain traits such as growth, reproduction, disease resistance, and behavior. Students will discover the responsibilities of an animal geneticist.
- FoodMaster: Meat, Poultry and Fish (Grades 3-5)
In this lesson, students will learn how animals utilize nutrients and energy from food humans cannot digest and convert it to meat, a food rich in zinc, iron, and protein. Students will discover how hamburger is formulated for leanness, compare two kinds for hot dogs, and learn about fish.
- Beef: A Healthy Option (Grades 6-8)
Students will learn about the nutritional content of beef and use role playing and research to describe why zinc, iron, protein, and vitamin B12 are important to healthy living.
- The Remarkable Ruminant (Grades 6-8)
In this lesson, students will follow the farm to fork process of producing beef, learn how cattle and other ruminants convert grass into nutrient-rich foods such as milk and meat, discover ways cattle recycle food waste, and identify careers in the beef cattle industry.
- Beef: Making the Grade (Grades 9-12)
Students will evaluate the USDA grading system for whole cuts of beef and discuss consumer preferences and nutritional differences between grain-finished and grass-finished beef. Students will also distinguish various labels on beef products and discuss reasons for the government's involvement in agricultural production, processing and distribution of food.
- Carbon Hoofprints: Cows and Climate Change (Grades 9-12)
Students will explore the carbon cycle and evaluate the carbon footprint of beef cattle. Using critical thinking skills, students will use the Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning model to determine the effect of cows' methane production on the environment and investigate the extent cattle contribute to climate change.
Please direct any questions you have about this contest to Katie Carpenter.
Explore the Past Winning Schools and Projects
Check out the impressive submissions from the past winners of the Top Cut Beef Contest!