“I eat chicken, but I don’t eat rooster,” were the words that I heard from a high school student on one of my many visits to schools this year.
For those of us who know that roosters are chickens, this statement seems unbelievable and even funny. However, this high school student is one of the many Americans who believe similar things about their food.
According to an article written in the Washington Post, one in five adults do not know that hamburgers are made from beef. Many people are not aware of the food they are eating or where their food comes from. In order to address this problem and many others seen in agriculture, UF IFAS Extension-Osceola County, in partnership with local agriculture groups, such as Osceola County Farm Bureau, Osceola County Cattlemen’s Association and the Silver Spurs Riding Club, hosted an agriculture awareness event, Farm City Youth Day.
On Nov. 22, we hosted our annual Farm City Youth Day for 2019. We had 260 youths join us from three local schools and fifteen community agriculture partners present to teach. During Farm City Days Youth Day, fourth-grade students and their teachers get the opportunity to learn more about the world of agriculture around them. The event address agricultural topics, such as where food comes from, animal and agricultural sciences and even the impact agriculture has on Osceola County.
This year, students and teachers were able to learn about the production of beef, honey, citrus, eggs, chicken, pork and dairy. They also learned about how we protect land, animals and the farmers that produce our agriculture. Local youth groups that provide agricultural programming, 4-H Youth Development and FFA, were also present to talk about how to join and learn more about agriculture.
Agriculture is what feeds us, provides us with clothing and helps provide us with shelter. It also contributes $91 million to the economy and is the second largest industry in Osceola County (USDA Ag Census). Without having youth and adults who are “ag literate,” possessing knowledge and understanding of our food and fiber system (Frick, 1991), people are less likely to make educated choices as consumers, policymakers and citizens (Boatner, 2004). By getting youth interested in agriculture and teaching them about it at a young age, we are helping to achieve the goal of having “ag literate” individuals who will use their knowledge and understanding to continue to make smart choices about agriculture and will help keep the important industry alive.
Jessica Sprain is a UF/IFAS extension agent, 4-H Youth Development, Osceola County.