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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Interactive display helps youth learn about origin of their food

STILLWATER, Okla. – When Ripley Elementary School second grader Raelin Burrell went to school recently, she was sure she’d be learning about math, science and reading – you know, the usual stuff. Little did she know she was going to get to milk a cow.

OK, so it wasn’t a real cow, but the experience was still pretty exciting for Burrell and the other students at Ripley Elementary School.

The milking cow is just one of the fun aspects of the newly revamped Farm to You display, which serves as an interactive learning tool for youth to learn more about where their food comes from, the importance of eating healthy foods and how these foods help make their bodies and minds strong.

From the life-like pretend food at the Farmers Market, to the tooth-shaped chairs students sit on and the larger-than-life toothbrush in The Mouth station, the new-and-improved Farm to You exhibit truly brings the relationship between agriculture and good health to life for students in pre-K through sixth grade.

Brandon Miller, coordinator for the Farm to You exhibit, said the exhibit focuses on various educational goals.

“Kids can be disconnected when it comes to knowing where their food comes from. Many of today’s youth think their food simply comes from the store,” Miller said. “It’s important for them to realize our agricultural producers are providing a healthy and safe product for them.”

Seven-year-old Burrell said she already knew some of her food came from animals.

“My grandma and poppa have meat cows,” she said. “I learned meat is healthy, and milk and water are good things to drink. And, I had fun milking the cow.”

The Farm to You exhibit debuted in August 2008 and has reached more than 124,000 students in pre-K through sixth grade across Oklahoma. Now going into its 10th year, the exhibit recently went through a complete update and is better than ever. Farm to You contains nine stations focusing on different aspects of agriculture and how the food we eat is beneficial to our bodies. The stations include Oklahoma Farmland, A Farmer’s Life, Farmers Market, Mouth, Stomach, Intestines, Muscles, Bones and Brain.

Students spend about six minutes in each station participating in activities and learning about the relationships between agriculture, food and health. They learn about the importance of brushing their teeth, how food travels through the body and the role food plays in the development of their muscles, bones and brain. In addition, students also learn about making healthy food choices and proper portion sizes, along with the importance of physical activity.

Katrina Wilkins teaches pre-K at Ripley and said the exhibit fits right into her lesson plans.

“This is a great head start on our farm unit. It really helps kids visualize what agriculture is,” Wilkins said. “In class we talk about the fact that what we eat and what we wear comes from the farm. This helps them gain a better understanding of why farms are important.”

Lisa Taylor, former Farm to You coordinator, helped oversee all the new updates to the exhibit.

“We have all new stations, new graphics and new scripts with updated content,” Taylor said. “We even have a milking cow for students to practice milking. These changes give the exhibit a fresh, modern look. Also, our new interactive props allow students to have a hands-on learning experience.”

Taylor also pointed out Oklahoma continues to rank high for obesity and low for fruit and vegetable consumption. The various stations throughout the exhibit will help children learn the importance of good health and healthy eating habits.

“It’s important to teach our students these things early in life,” Taylor said. “Also, learning about farming in Oklahoma is important.”

Five-year-old Kash Scalf said he had fun going through the exhibit.

“It was fun and I learned about how food helps my brain,” Scalf said. “I also learned food comes from the farm, not the store.”

Miller said teachers are provided curriculum to use in their classroom that helps instill the lessons students learned while going through the Farm to You exhibit.

“There are so many different things teachers can focus on in the classroom that relate to food, agriculture and health,” he said.

Schools wanting to book the Farm to You exhibit should call their local Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension office, or contact Miller at 405-713-2113 or brandon.miller10@okstate.edu. The entire exhibit requires space equivalent to about half of a basketball court. At least nine volunteers are needed to lead the various stations.

 

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Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
159 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)
trisha.gedon@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000

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