I grew up going to Catholic schools, never having a chance to participate in FFA. However, I was fortunate enough to come from a family background based in agriculture where I participated, for a brief time, in 4-H. I never realized what I was missing out on, until I came to WIU.
This past week, I was fortunate enough to be able to teach an Ag in the Classroom lesson to the after-school kids at the daycare that I work at: Catch-A-Star Learning Center. I was dumbfounded by the lack of basic knowledge my kids have about Agriculture, but I had to keep in mind that these kids are anywhere between 5-11 years old. When I asked how many of them have parents or grandparents who farm the number of hands raised was less than a third of the class. Those kids that did raise their hands knew a small fraction of the answers to the questions I asked. One of the little girls, a Kindergartner originally from the Chicago area, thought that all of the “black and white cows are girls and the black cows with horns are boys.” I couldn’t choke back my laugh at this. Growing up with primarily Limousin and LimFlex cattle, I was floored. I quickly explained that this was not correct and went on to explain the difference between “black and white” and “black cows with horns.” We then talked about the difference between beef and dairy cattle. One boy was still under the impression that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, but couldn’t tell me where strawberry milk comes from because he was “pretty sure there aren’t pink cows.”
Needless to say, the lesson was interesting and extremely eye-opening for me. I expected a few questions here and there from my kids, but I never thought they would be so uneducated even though they are still so young. As I was walking out of the building, I realized how important teaching these kids about Agriculture really is. The class was so responsive to the entire lesson, soaking up my words like a bunch of human sponges.
As Agvocates, it is our job to teach future generations the facts. At this point, the only information they get is from their parents or the media. This is, more often than not, an unreliable, biased source of information, especially when their parents are just as uneducated as the kids are. With all of the recent issues coming up in the industry, such as Subway only serving antibiotic free meat, it is important to be sure everyone knows the facts. By saying the company will no longer serve meat with antibiotics, Subway is implying that meat does, in fact, have antibiotics in it. However, it does NOT, but the general public wouldn’t know that. Animal Rights Activists have always, and will continue to be, a large influence on what we see in the media. We must educate our children on the other side of things: Animal Welfare. This education begins with us, begins in the classroom.
Hi and thanks for reading! My name is Abbie Wellman. I am a senior Ag Business major Communications minor at WIU. I am from a small cow-calf operation in Fowler, Illinois. I am a part of Alpha Zeta, Ag Business Club, and Hoof ‘N Horn.