3 ways to educate kids about where their food comes from

Today’s youth are four and five generations removed from the family farm; here are three ways ranchers can get involved in educating our nation’s youth about where their food comes from.

by Amanda Radke  via Beef Daily

Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference ManualChildren have an insatiable curiosity to learn about the world around them. My daughter is 10 months old and is already incredibly interested in exploring the ranch and seems to really enjoy looking at the cattle. I’m looking forward to the thousands of questions she will ask about the farm in the future. Of course, her first-hand experience of growing up on the farm will give her a A Handbook for Ranch Managersclear understanding of how her food gets to the dinner table, but what about her future classmates? How and where will they learn about where their food comes from?

As beef producers, a great place to focus our advocacy efforts should be with young people. After all, most kids learn about farm Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian Viewlife from caricatures of talking barnyard animals in Disney-style movies. What’s more, today’s babies are now 4-5 generations removed from the family farm; that leaves a wide gap of knowledge and understanding for food producers to bridge with these future consumers.

The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other MisfitsIn 2011, I wrote a children’s book entitled, “Levi’s Lost Calf,” and since then, I’ve read my ranching story to many elementary students across the nation. It’s amazing to me to see how excited these kids become when they get to meet a “real” rancher, and they have so many questions about life on the farm. From my experiences in the classroom, I’ve rounded up three ways to get started in reaching out to youth and sharing your agriculture story.

1. Agriculture belongs in the classroom.

Reconnaissance Marine MCI 03.32f: Marine Corps InstituteDue to the challenges of meeting standardized testing scores, many teachers have little flexibility to add unique lesson planning to their day. That’s why I was excited to see this testimony featuring agriculture in the classroom from an elementary student on the popular photography page, “Humans of New York.” Here is what students in New York are learning about farming, according to one Combat Shooter's Handbookyoung student: “I’m going to be a farmer,” he says. “I know how to grow two types of crops. One crop is the normal kind. The other kind uses aquaponic systems. We have an aquaponic system in our classroom. It has a 1-ton tank with nine tilapia fish in it. At the end of the year, we are going to harvest everything that we grew. Then we’re going to make fish tacos.” Read their full story here. 

The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)  The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2) The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3) Agriculture can be the focus in any subject — from history, to science, to math, and reading. To connect youth to rural America, it would be great to see more lesson planning featuring real-life examples like the one listed above to teach the subject as well as educate students about food.

2. Volunteers are always needed.

According to the National Agriculture In The Classroom website, “An agriculturally literate person would understand the food and fiber system and this would include its history and its current economic, social and environmental significance to all Americans.”

To bring this level of understanding to children, volunteers are needed to present information in schools and during summer library reading programs. Most states have their own programs, where the coordinators can assist volunteers in getting into schools, providing lesson plans and offering the tools needed to keep the students engaged during your visit.

Check out the National Ag In The Classroom website for your state’s program.

Also, if volunteering at a county fair or local ag day, check out these “Learn about livestock” banners from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, which can easily be hung up around the barns.

3. Donate books to local libraries.

In church, we are always reminded to donate our time, talent and treasure to help the parish. The same goes for being an advocate. If you can’t spare the time to be in the classroom, or don’t feel confident in presenting a lesson, consider donating agriculturally accurate books for kids to read on their own time. Libraries always welcome donations, and there are some great books out there that portray farming and ranching in a realistic way. Check out these best-selling farm animal books on Amazon to get ideas for books geared toward young readers.

Learning about farming and ranching can be fun for kids. With a little time and effort on our part, we can make a difference in educating our nation’s youth to become agriculturally literate and have a firm grasp on where their food comes from. This is the best place to start, so what are you waiting for?

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference ManualPlanned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual. This is the ideal squeal to A Handbook for Ranch Managers.  Although the ecological principles remain the same, what was originally known as “The Savory Grazing Method” now answers to a multitude of different names: ranching for profit, holistic management, managed grazing, mob grazing, management intensive grazing, etc. Land & Livestock International, Inc. uses “Restoration Grazing” under its “Managing the Ranch as a Business” program.” No mater what you call it, this summary and synopsis will guide you step by step through the process and teach you how to use it as it was originally intended. No more excuses for failing to complete your grazing plans.

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About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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