Ag program seeks to teach kids about origins of food

Mar 9, 2012

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The Wyoming Farm Bureau runs an Ag Books for Kids program to help kids better understand where their food comes from. Young ranchers are going into classrooms to spread the Ag gospel. Irina Zhorov went to a classroom in Laramie for the story. 

Holly Kennedy: I’m here this morning because I’m a rancher. Do you guys know what a rancher is? Yeah! What do they do Jaxson? Well, they’re practically people who ride horses and do stuff with cows sometimes. We do ride horses and do stuff with cows.  

Irina Zhorov: Holly Kennedy is holding court in Ms. Lange’s second-grade classroom, at Slade Elementary, in Laramie. 

Kennedy: Who can tell me where an apple comes from? Let’s go to the back. Diego. A tree. What kind of tree? Apple tree. Good job. Who can tell me where cereal came from? Rhegan. Cereal box. A cereal box? Where do you get a cereal box? At the grocery store. Ok.  

Zhorov: She’s there as part of the Ag Books for Kids program that the Farm Bureau runs. The program chooses a book about agriculture to send out to elementary school libraries. This year’s book is Seed, Soil, Sun by Cris Peterson. Members of the Young Farmer and Rancher program go out to classrooms to read the book, teach kids about agriculture, and do ag-centered activities with them in the classroom.

In this classroom, Kennedy passes around green bean seeds to the eager students, to plant in clear plastic cups. It’s her first presentation and she says she’s dedicated to the mission behind the program. 

Kennedy: I grew up on a family ranch here in Albany county. It’s really important to me to make sure that people know what we do. Because most people are three generations removed from the farm or ranch, a lot of kids don’t know where their food comes from. And it’s really important for them to know where it comes from and why we do what we do.

Zhorov: Lange says it’s the first time she’s had someone from the Farm Bureau come in to talk to her students.

Lange: Ms. Kennedy’s mother works with me in the afternoons and so we got to talking about it and what a great opportunity it would be for the students to just learn about agriculture and just farming and ranching because it’s an important piece of Wyoming.

Zhorov: Despite this, Lange says there are only a couple of kids in her classroom that come from ranching families.

Lange: I would say this is pretty new knowledge for them so it’s important for them to learn about this.

Zhorov: They’ll continue to watch the seeds and incorporate Kennedy’s visit into other lessons. Further, Lange says she uses the opportunity to talk about the food the kids eat.

Lange: This year our school district is part of a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grant and so every Tuesday and Thursday our students receive fresh fruit and vegetables in their classroom for snack and so making the connection between where this food comes from and then our students having it. And then we’ve also been talking about nutritional value, how those foods help you, and so this is a great connection to pull in as they’ve had these snacks all year.

Zhorov: Kennedy says the point is just to educate the kids, both about food and where it comes from. But she’s clear that it wouldn’t hurt if some of the lessons recruited kids, either.

Kennedy: A lot of kids aren’t staying on the farm and ranch. And that’s sad because it’s really hard for the older people to keep those family operations going. So we always need and influx of new people into the industry.

Zhorov: Even if that doesn’t happen though, the kids are learning where their food originates, before it arrives at the grocery store.

For Wyoming Public Radio, I’m Irina Zhorov.