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! ;)
The Beef Queen