The livestock pavilion at the Four States Agricultural Exposition was a microcosm of agriculture in the Southwest on Thursday and Friday as hundreds of schoolchildren participated in Colorado State Universitys Ag Adventure.
Designed to give students a taste of the impact agriculture has on their daily lives, CSUs Ag Adventure aims to connect students to the world of agriculture in a way they havent experienced before.
We want to engage them and bring them into agriculture, said student coordinator Elisa Sagehorn. It clicks for them that they are a part of agriculture; they arent separate from it. Anyone who puts a shirt on in the morning or eats breakfast or puts fuel in their car is as much a part of agriculture as the producer.
Students from local elementary schools as well as schools in Durango rotated through a variety of stations manned by CSU College of Agricultural Sciences students and local producers, learning about everything ag related from forage to the cost of feeding the world.
At the heritage foods station, Montezuma County Commissioner and local producer Steve Chappell spoke to students about bean production in the Four Corners.
How many of you like bean burritos, Chappell asked the students. If you do you are part of agriculture here. We grow those beans.
Chappell said the Ag Adventure provides students a unique opportunity to engage with agriculture and perhaps even consider it for their future.
Some of these students may want to be farmers someday, Chappell said. This gives them information to develop that connection.
That was exactly the impact the Ag Adventure had on 11-year-old Amina Youssef, a fifth-grader from Riverview Elementary School in Durango.
I might want to work on a farm someday, and I would need to know some of these things, Youssef said. I think I maybe want to have a farm.
Along with heritage foods, students also listened to presentations on soil, bees, alpacas, goats, beef, forage, Navajo-Churro sheep, feeding the world and farm safety.
All of the booths incorporated some aspect of hands-on learning. At the soil presentation, students painted with different types of soil. At the alpaca booth, students learned how to clean wool and tried their hand at weaving. Each presentation also included a large amount of information for the students to consider.
At the presentation on food, Sagehorn used slices of an apple to demonstrate how little of the Earths land is suitable for food production.
Holding small slivers of the apples peel, Sagehorn tried to impress on the students the value of farmland.
This is land that is very special because this is the land that feeds us, Sagehorn said.
Nancy Irlbeck, associate dean for academic affairs in CSUs College of Agricultural Sciences, said it is important to connect students to the farm given the pressure producers face when it comes to feeding the world.
The facts are, in 2050 there will need to be an increase of food on a global scale by 70 percent, Irlbeck said. We will have to do that with less land, less water and less resources, and as of right now we dont have the technology or producers to do that. Connecting with the next generation of consumers is imperative.
The students seemed to take the lessons to heart, in addition to relishing the hands-on nature of the event.
I learned that asphalt and bubble gum and some candy all have cow fat in them, said Angela Wilson, 11, a fifth-grader at Durangos Riverview Elementary School. I didnt know that before.
Wilsons classmate SheaLynn Baca, also 11, noted it is important for everyone to understand agriculture.
Everyone should know where their food comes from, Baca said. For example, usually male cows are the beef cows. It is good background for the future.
The Ag Adventure is open to the general public today as an exhibit-based event from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Reach Kimberly Benedict at [email protected]