I am definitely someone who is all for educating today’s youth about agriculture. Now, I’m not talking about trying to give them a college level lecture, simply covering the basics. This is exactly what Instructor Jana Knupp’s Ag 340 class allowed its’ students to accomplish. For just two hours in the morning from 9:00 AM to 11:15 AM, we students had the opportunity to educate preschoolers about agriculture at the WIU Livestock Center.
I can’t help but admit that I was a little excited to see the preschoolers running up to the pens of pigs and sheep when they were released in the Livestock Center to do a bit of learning; but then again, what little kid could resist real-life baby animals? As I held one of the sheep for the children to pet, I was shocked by how many of them kept calling them goats. Although they are only four and five years old, I would have thought that at least children’s books would have helped alleviate some of this confusion. Boy was I wrong. I then began thinking at what age kids that grow up in urban settings, large or small, would be exposed to any sort of curriculum remotely related to agriculture. I realized that they essentially never are.
Several other students, including myself, were stationed at the animals during the preschoolers’ visits, and I couldn’t help but smile when any of the kids would repeat a fact that we had told them. We would ask the children what items they thought came from the sheep, and would have them touch the sheep after we told them that it was wool; telling them what wool is used for, and then having them touch it on the sheep was a great teaching tool. I truly believe that trips like this, interactive and hands-on, are what help kids retain what basic knowledge they are able to absorb. I was also impressed when I told a few of the preschoolers that sheep had four stomachs, and then they asked if cows did too. It is amazing what random bits of knowledge that children actually hold on to, which is why it is so important what we choose to educate them about.
Food for Thought
There is clearly a gap in knowledge between those that have agricultural backgrounds/educations and those that do not, children and adults alike. Advocating for agriculture is a huge step in closing that gap and making the general public more knowledgeable about the commodities they consume on a daily basis. Classes like Instructor Jana Knupp’s Ag 340 would make a huge difference on the community level in terms of broadening the educational spectrum.
My name is Cassie Lindsey, and I am a senior Agriculture Science student with a minor in Agronomy. I grew up on a livestock and row crop farm near Jacksonville IL, and will be working for a crop insurance company following graduation in May. I have always been passionate about agriculture and believe that educating people about it can greatly benefit the industry as a whole.