Saturday, June 16, 2012

Youth Field days: The Importance of Agriculture Education

There are many benefits to a great research facility. There are the obvious reasons: we learn from what we have done right, what we are doing wrong, and learn how we can be even better. The center in Ona, an extension of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences Cattle Range Station, is an awesome example of how a research facility should be run.

One of the benefits that many may not know about is that not only does this facility test, grow, plant, harvest and experiment on behalf of farmers and ranchers; they also give tours and help educate the youth in Florida and around the country. We all know that kids soak information up like sponges, and they want to learn. If more facilities team up and offer educational (and maybe even fun) tours, there will be great benefits to follow.

This past Thursday I attended the youth fall field day with many of my friends and some awesome representatives of our industries in agriculture. I had the opportunity to lead a group of kids and their parents around the well-planned tour, and I had a blast! I learned more about the operation than I expected, and I think a lot of people will agree.

We, as advocates, can talk all day long about agriculture till we are blue in the face. We know the benefits and the process like it's the back of our hands. We get it. I never understood why other people didn't. Seeing those kids and their parents learn these great facts and usable information really hit home. It helps to show them and give them something tangible. Instead of "the corn is planted in rows" or "cows are ruminant animals", we need to show diagrams and pictures. Explain what you mean, and why it's important. Cows are ruminant. 1 stomach, 4 compartments. Rumen, reticulum, omasum, and the abomasum. Did the facility just have the kids recite that? No... There was a real stomach for an example!

I'm not telling you to carry around a calf reproductive or digestive system in your car, or to cut a hole in your heifer to show how they eat in case anyone comes to your farm; let's leave that to the experts. I am saying that there are visual aids readily available! Get in touch with the beef council, your local cattlemen/cattlewomen, industry representative, ag teacher, farmer. Someone is bound to have something cool for you to share! We have great resources, we just have to find them!

I would like to say thank you to the staff at Ona and everyone who participated in making this event a success! Hope to see you all there again next year! Stay involved, and make sure you reach out to someone with a cool fact or information that might surprise them! When we continue to educate, we will in turn be asked more questions, which forces us to better educate ourselves. It's really a win-win situation!

Example: cows are ruminant, which means their system is set up so that they can actually digest fiber. Humans are mono gastric, which means fiber cleans us out! ;)

God bless,

The Beef Queen

Thursday, June 14, 2012

JFCA Youth Fall Field Day - Ona, 2012

It's been almost a year since the last field day, and I can't wait to go! I can't believe how much fun this last year has been. I definitely feel like I've grown since sweetheart... And I'm not talking about my height! :)

The Florida Cattleman's Annual convention, held in Marco Island, FL is in about 4 days! A year since I've given up my title,a year since what I thought was the end of my career. Now I realize it was just a crucial stepping stone! According to my business cards, and the fancy polo I'm wearing today, I have become an "industry advocate". This just means that I have decided to be a positive representation for the beef industry, and I could not be more excited!

Many people say that after sweetheart, you are a "has been". I say that you are only as good as you think you can be, so I simply refuse to be as has been. I believe that I owe this industry something, as it's given me so much!

That all being said, I'm looking forward to seeing all the kids and adults today getting educated about agriculture. It's what makes my heart skip a beat, but don't tell my boyfriend that! :)

Joining me today will be the current Manatee county Cattleman's sweetheart, my successor Maria. She will be representing the county in the annual contest this year at convention. I feel that she is prepared to represent us well, but as always I am excited for all the girls running. Whether they know it or not, this is a life-changing experience, if you want it to be. All I know is my life changed, and I thank God for the opportunities I've had.

I'll update about the field day later. Wish me luck, because this year I'm actually going to have a group to lead around. What a difference from last year, but as always, bring it on!

Thanks for reading this, and supporting all the youth and cattleman in this industry. Pray for those producing and representing, because Lord knows we need both sides. Pray the humidity and heat give those kids a break today as we are out in the heat enjoying this awesome event. Have an awesome rest of your week!

God bless,

The Beef Queen