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Ag Adventure at CSU: Think past the grocery store

How many stomachs does a cow have? Where do fruit, bread, vegetables and milk come from? What are your clothes made of?

These are just a few questions third-graders were asked when they attended CSU’s Ag Adventure on Sept. 26 and 27.

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Every year for the past 12 years, students in the College of Agricultural Sciences have educated more than 2,000 third-graders from the Poudre School District. The purpose of this two-day extravaganza is to help the younger generation learn firsthand about the sources of their food and fiber.

Many kids and adults don’t think past the grocery store; Ag Adventure demonstrates that it all starts with farmers and ranchers

U.S. farmers, and many others involved in our country’s food system, produce an abundance of safe, high-quality and reasonably priced food.

We might think our grocery expenses are high, but in the United States we spent just 9.8 percent of our disposable personal income on food in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Compare that to double-digit expenditures in other nations.

We are fortunate to live in a country that produces the best food in the world, yet many Americans are not aware of the effort and resources that go into our food.

That’s why the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences created Ag Adventure. Third-graders attend a special Ag Adventure field trip at the CSU Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center. There are other versions at the National Western Stock Show and select county fairs.

For the third-graders, CSU student volunteers set up a grand agricultural display with hands-on education stations.

After an introduction, the youngsters get tractor-drawn hayrides to stations where they learn about the intricacies soil and erosion control. They learn about the influence of climate on growing fruits and vegetables. They discuss livestock, meat safety – and big-picture topics, including world hunger and food security.

Students see how crops at the research farm are planted and grown. They also visit horses, cattle and sheep, and even observe sheep shearing and the spinning of wool.

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When Ag Adventure goes on the road, the exhibit provides information about Colorado’s wheat, corn, dairy, beef, egg, sugar beet, sheep and fiber sectors. It also includes displays featuring green housing, soil sciences, water and other natural resources.

The goal is to effectively communicate the impact that Colorado agriculture has in our lives. After all, agriculture contributes an estimated $40 billion to the Colorado economy, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

As a volunteer for both versions of Ag Adventure, I’ve seen the limited knowledge people have about agriculture. It is important to me to contribute to this knowledge because agriculture’s future will be demanding in the realm of production of food with the growing population and depletion of land.

It is our goal to raise awareness of the bright and intricate future agriculture has and how it will impact the lives of everyone on earth.

After our Ag Adventure last month, it’s great to know that local third-graders better understand how agriculture is important in their everyday lives. They go home able to answer questions like those posed earlier:
·      Cows have one stomach with four different compartments where digestion takes place.
·      Bread is a product from a crop called wheat.
·      Fruits and vegetables are grown from plants, trees and bushes that thrive in open, cultivated fields.
·      Dairy cows produce milk.
·      Many clothes can be made from a plant called cotton or even from wool, which comes from sheep.

Malinda DeBell is a sophomore animal science major. Her column appears every other Tuesday in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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