Meet the 2017-2018 Class of The Crew!

Nebraska Farm Bureau has identified eight social media savvy student members to join our Crew. The Crew is a group of Nebraska Farm Bureau student members who enjoy agriculture communication and social media. Together, The Crew will work on reaching a larger audience with pro-ag messages and will help put a face to agriculture through social media in conjunction with Nebraska Farm Bureau. Members of The Crew have access to unique training sessions, such as exploring social media strategies on Capitol Hill.

NFBF is excited to introduce our Crew members to you! For the next year these students will help promote agriculture and rural America through their work on social media!

 

Mekenzie Beattie

Mekenzie Beattie

Hi! I’m Mekenzie Beattie! I am the sixth generation on my diversified family farm where our main focus is swine! I am an active member in 4-H and FFA and am excited to serve as the SEM FFA’s chapter president this upcoming year! I enjoy showing livestock, especially cattle! I also play volleyball and basketball and relieve my stress by playing the piano. I love to work on the farm and be involved daily in the Agriculture Industry. I have developed a thrilling passion for agriculture throughout my childhood and will continue that in my future! I am planning on attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln after my high school career! I hope to double major in Ag Business and Ag communications! I thrilled to be a part of The Crew and to share my love of agriculture with the world!

 

 

 

Halie Andreasen

Halie Andreasen

Hello everyone! My name is Halie Andreasen. I will be a senior this year at Boone Central High School in Albion, Nebraska.  I live on a family farm where we have a small feedlot, cows, and raise corn and soybeans. I love spending time with my spunky corgi, Charlie, and drinking all the sweet tea I can get my hands on. My passion for agriculture started at a young age and was inspired by my love of showing cattle. From then on, I have been extremely involved in 4-H, FFA, and other extracurricular activities within my school. I have found that the best way to positively influence the future of agriculture is by developing young leaders and encouraging them to find their voice and advocate for our future. Because of this, I plan on attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln while majoring in agricultural education in hopes of inspiring youth to take a stand in their love of agriculture.

 

 

Rebel Sjeklocha (2)

Rebel Sjeklocha

Hello all! My name is Rebel Sjeklocha and I will be a senior this fall at Maywood High School. I live on a farm and cattle operation with my family east of Hayes Center. I have one little brother, Jett, who will be entering the eighth grade and keeps me on my toes. Agriculture has played an integral role in my upbringing, and I would not change this for the world. My mom is a veterinarian and my dad owns a commercial hay grinding business. My parents are my biggest role models, and have shown me what it means to truly be passionate about what you do.

I am active in the Maywood FFA Chapter where I compete in a variety of contests, ranging from livestock judging to ag communications and ag sales. In addition, I am also a proud member of Hayes County 4-H. In 4-H, I show cattle and horses, and do a variety of other projects as well. I have served as an advocate for rodeo and agriculture as the 2016 Elwood Rodeo Queen. I also competed in the Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska pageant in June held in conjunction with NEBRASKAland Days in North Platte.

I am looking forward to gaining new perspectives and serving as a spokesperson for ag by being part of The Crew. I cannot wait to see what this year has in store!

 

Kelsey Phillips

Kelsey Phillips

My name is Kelsey Phillips and I am the sixth generation in my family to ranch north of Mullen, Nebraska – a small town in the heart of the Sandhills. I am a 2016 Mullen High School graduate and am currently a sophomore studying animal science with an emphasis in beef reproduction. My family has a commercial cow-calf operation and we retain ownership of our feedlot steers. I have my own small beef herd and hope to one day return to my family operation. We raise our own corn and hay on our 240-acre pivot. I am a certified Artificial Insemination Technician and help my parents breed our own cows and with our custom A.I. business. My family has a small two-acre vineyard and as a hobby my dad makes a variety of fruit wines.

Growing up I was very active in 4-H where I did various projects, but particularly loved showing large and small animals. I spent many years showing swine at the Nebraska state fair and continue showing in FFA. I especially enjoyed my many years at the Nebraska State 4-H camp near Halsey, as both a camper and a counselor. As a high school senior, I had the privilege of attending National 4-H Congress as a youth delegate. Throughout high school I attended the Nebraska State Youth Range Camp where I learned to evaluate range conditions and identify plant species. From that experience, I was selected to give a presentation at the National Society for Range Management conference in California. During my FFA career I was involved in numerous competitions including public speaking, livestock and rangeland judging, and food sciences. I am currently an officer for my collegiate FFA chapter, a member of Nebraska Cattlemen, an Ag in the Classroom Pen Pal, and volunteer during the school year at the humane society.

Through these many experiences and opportunities, I have developed valuable life skills and found my passion for agriculture. By being a part of the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Crew I hope to advocate for agriculture and share my love for this industry.  I am looking forward to learning about new communication tools and ways that I can be a positive voice for farmers and ranchers.

 

Kathlyn Hauxwell (2)

Kathlyn Hauxwell

My​ ​name​ ​is​ ​Kathlyn​ ​Hauxwell​ ​and​ ​I​ ​am​ ​very​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a part​ ​of​ ​this​ ​year’s​ ​​Ag​ ​Crew!​ ​

My interest​ ​in​ ​agriculture​ ​quickly​ ​developed​ ​as​ ​a​ ​young​ ​child​ ​growing​ ​up​ ​on​ ​our​ ​5th​ ​generation family​ ​farm​ ​and​ ​ranch​ ​in​ ​southwestern​ ​Nebraska. ​ ​We​ ​primarily​ ​raise​ ​cattle​ ​and​ ​grow​ ​commodity crops​ ​such​ ​as​ ​corn, ​wheat,​ ​and​ ​soybeans.​ ​My​ ​passion​ ​for​ ​agriculture​ ​developed​ ​further​ ​when​ ​I reached​ ​the​ ​age​ ​to​ ​be​ ​involved​ ​in​ ​4-H.​ ​As​ ​I​ ​started​ ​working​ ​with​ ​my​ ​show​ ​steers,​ ​and​ ​attending different​ ​clinics​ ​and​ ​camps,​ ​I​ ​definitely​ ​found​ ​myself​ ​at​ ​home​ ​being​ ​around​ ​the​ ​animals​ ​and​ ​the responsibilities​ ​that​ ​comes​ ​with​ ​them.​ ​I​ ​began​ ​to​ ​also​ ​show​ ​horses​ ​at​ ​a​ ​competitive​ ​level​ ​at​ ​the age​ ​of​ ​13,​ ​traveling​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​country​ ​to​ ​compete.​ ​In​ ​doing​ ​so​ ​I​ ​discovered​ ​a​ ​completely​ ​new facet​ ​of​ ​agriculture​ ​that​ ​I​ ​now​ ​account​ ​some​ ​of​ ​my​ ​best​ ​qualities​ ​for​ ​today.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​seventh​ ​grade​ ​I joined​ ​my​ ​school’s​ ​FFA​ ​chapter​ ​and​ ​the​ ​rest​ ​is​ ​history.​ ​As​ ​the​ ​years​ ​progressed​ ​I​ ​discovered more​ ​and​ ​more​ ​about​ ​the​ ​agriculture​ ​industry,​ ​way​ ​more​ ​than​ ​I​ ​thought​ ​even​ ​existed.​ ​I​ ​found myself​ ​to​ ​be​ ​in​ ​love​ ​with​ ​speaking​ ​events,​ ​working​ ​with​ ​other​ ​members,​ ​and​ ​also​ ​getting​ ​in​ ​the dirt​ ​by​ ​being​ ​on​ ​the​ ​livestock​ ​judging​ ​and​ ​vet​ ​science​ ​team.​ ​This​ ​year​ ​I​ ​will​ ​continue​ ​my​ ​FFA career​ ​as​ ​a​ ​senior​ ​and​ ​FFA​ ​President​ ​at​ ​McCook​ ​High​ ​School.​ ​After​ ​I​ ​graduate​ ​I​ ​aspire​ ​to​ ​attend the​ ​University​ ​of​ ​Nebraska​-Lincoln​ ​and​ ​start​ ​the​ ​process​ ​of​ ​becoming​ ​a​ ​veterinarian​ ​with​ ​majors in​ ​animal​ ​science​ ​and​ ​biochemistry.​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​wait​ ​to​ ​see​ ​what​ ​this​ ​year​ ​holds​ ​for​ ​the​ ​​Ag​ ​Crew 2017-2018!

 

Amanda Most

Amanda Most

Hey, agriculturalists! That is, hey as in hello, not hay like the stuff you feed cattle.

My name is Amanda Most and I am a senior at Ogallala High School in western Nebraska. After graduation, I hope to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and major in Agricultural Communications. I am involved in a large variety of extracurricular activities, but there is one that easily makes the top of the list: FFA. I am currently serving as the President of my chapter and am excited to be competing in the Vet Science competition at National FFA in October.

One of my favorite songs just happens to be “Farmer’s Daughter” by Rodney Atkins, because that’s exactly what I am: a farmer’s daughter. I live on my 5th generation family farm southeast of Ogallala where we raise corn, soybeans, peas, wheat and a herd of cattle. Growing up on a farm that is rooted so deeply within my family has given me a greater appreciation for food production and all that farmers do. From a young age, I have even played a role in production agriculture. I have raised and shown livestock since I was around 6 years old and I continue to show hogs and cattle. Even though I am mainly involved at a local level, I have found my voice in agriculture by being a livestock producer. I have seen the negative effects that can occur when consumers are uninformed and I personally have been challenged about the intent of the agricultural industry. These instances have only fueled my passion for serving in an industry that is crucial to our state, but more substantially, for feeding the world. It is more important than ever that we as agriculturalists stand up and advocate for ourselves and our livelihoods.

My passion for the agricultural industry and love for public speaking and writing will be put to work as I join “The Crew.” I am excited about being a member of The Crew because it is the perfect place for me to connect with others who share my passion for agriculture. Together, we will grow as agriculturalists and use our skills to serve as voices for agriculture. Let’s agvocate!

 

Miranda Hornung

Miranda Hornung

Hello Everyone! My name is Miranda Hornung and I live in Davey, NE population 157. As my journey as a member of the Crew begins, I am extremely excited to share my passion for agriculture with a wide audience.

I will be a senior for the upcoming school year at Raymond Central High School where I participate in a variety of activities including SkillsUSA, Student Council, Spanish Club, FCA, and of course FFA. I also have a knack for music, as I enjoy singing, play the flute, and have taken classical piano lessons since I was in kindergarten. I work part-time for a local bank, crop insurance agency, and for my family’s grain truck and trailer agribusiness.

While I have always been involved in agriculture and FFA since 7th grade, my interest for ag communications has only recently been sparked. Through public speaking contests, currently serving as a two-year president for the Central FFA Chapter, and entering an ag blog competition, I have developed an undeniable passion for “agvocating.”

I hope to continue to grow this passion through the upcoming year as a member of the Crew and in my future as I plan to attend UNL in the fall of 2018 and major in agricultural education with minors in leadership, communication, and entrepreneurship.

 

Jaclyn Frey

Jaclyn Frey

Hi everyone! My name is Jaclyn Frey and I live on our family farm just outside of Albion, Nebraska. From an early age a passion for agriculture was instilled in me. Hard work and dedication were just a couple of the traits that I learned to value through agriculture. I grew up caring for animals around the farm and riding in the tractor with my dad. That passion quickly grew as I became involved in 4-H and FFA. These organizations offered many opportunities for me to explore the agricultural industry and to see that agriculture reaches people from all lifestyles, not just those who live on a farm. Showing cattle has allowed me to connect with people, from across the state, who share the same passion as me. By retaining show heifers and purchasing cows from local producers, my cow herd has reached around thirty head. I also rent eighteen acres of dryland and raise corn and soybeans. I am a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in Agricultural Education. Advocating for ag is something that is really important to me so I can’t wait to share my story with you all!

Why Agriculture: An Open Letter from a High School Senior

kelli blog 2 photoHere I am, a high school senior, taking part in my final days of this stage in my life. Right now, as we approach graduation, filling out scholarships is a big task. The question “What’s your intended major?” arises quite often followed by “Why have you chosen the major stated above?” I always answer with, “Agricultural Communications” and then proceed with my reason why: “I grew up in this industry…I want to make a difference within agriculture…my passion lies here.” Although each of these statements is correct, my reasoning for why I am choosing a major in agriculture goes much deeper. It wasn’t until filling out a scholarship application today that I realized that. So, here’s a letter to agriculturalists in my community, state, and nation explaining why I choose agriculture. Here’s a deeper reason for why I’m choosing this major.

kelli blog 2 photo 2Dear dedicated agriculturalists,

It’s because of you. You are the reason I write “Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication” on every scholarship application. You are the reason I toured the college of agriculture on East Campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. You are the reason I met with academic advisors in agriculture areas. You are the reason I choose agriculture. Why? It’s simple. YOU give me hope. You’ve helped me see the importance of each and every agriculturalist. From farmers to bankers to chemists to advocates- they’re all important. It’s because of you and your dedication and drive that I am choosing agriculture. Yes, I’m selecting this major for other reasons as well. For the uninformed, those disconnected from agriculture, and the curious. But in the end, I’m venturing with this major because of you. I see the smile you get when you finish your last field of corn. I see the difference you’re making in informing others through social media, radio, and magazines. I see your passion ignite when you get to visit with agriculturalists as well as non-agriculturists. I see the fear in your eyes of being able to feed the world by 2050. But I also see hope. I see so much hope. So, with that being said, thank you. Thank you for showing me that a major and a career in agriculture will be a choice I will never regret. Thank you for investing in me. Thank you for investing in others. YOU make a difference in the lives of countless people without even knowing it. So, thank you.

Sincerely,

A high school senior that got her passion for agriculture by watching all of you

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Sam’s Shepard’s Pie

Looking for a fun, easy recipe to fulfill your week? This recipe by Crew Member, Sam Steward, is a quick and delicious version of Shepard’s Pie. Try it tonight!

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Ingredients

1 pound of hamburger

1 can of corn

1 can of cream of celery

3 cups of cheese

1 ½ cups onion

3 large potatoes

½ a stick of butter

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease an 8×13 pan.
  2. Start by peeling and quarter the potatoes in a medium sized pot and boil until tender.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, begin chopping 1 ½ cup of onion. Then in a medium sauce pan, melt ¼ stick of butter and start cooking the chopped onion until tender.
  4. Halfway through cooking the onions, add the can of corn and continue cooking until tender.
  5. Once the onion and corn are cooked until tender, add the 1 pound of hamburger and cook until brown.
  6. Salt and pepper the corn, onion and hamburger mixture to taste.
  7. Add the can of cream of celery to the corn, onion, and hamburger mixture.
  8. Once potatoes are cooked, you can start mashing them.
  9. In the greased, 8×13 pan, layer the hamburger mixture on the bottom. Then you can layer the mashed potatoes over top the hamburger mixture.
  10. Sprinkle the three cups of cheese over top and cover with foil.
  11. Place in oven and bake on 400 degrees for 45 minutes.
  12. To get browning of the cheese, broil for 5 minutes.

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Importance of Family in Agriculture

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We are often told to choose our words carefully. Sometimes we don’t pay any attention to the words that aren’t inappropriate or hurtful but in reality they are just as important. When attending Nebraska Agriculture Youth Institute a speaker gave us a chart of words to use when talking about agriculture to the consumers who are unaware of who we are as an industry. There was one group of words that really stuck out at me, the usage of operation compared to family farm or ranch. I’ve always considered our ranch as our family’s, but professionally speaking I have always referred to it as an operation. When thinking about Keystone Cattle Company and O-C Livestock I realized that it isn’t an operation but really my family’s home.

Grandparents:

The reasoning behind my agriculture influence. Both sides of my grandparents have given me the opportunity to grow up in the most amazing industry and I have learned so much about their lives through doing the same activities that they have enjoyed in their lifetimes. My Grandpa and Grandma O’Connor have blessed me to grow up in God’s Country. It seems as if I can’t go anywhere without hearing crazy stories about Grandpa. Some of my favorite time with family is spent talking about the older generations. One of my most memorable brandings was this year when my grandpa crawled onto my brothers rope horse and heeled two legs on his first loop. I have been beyond blessed to be apart of the Keystone Cattle Company. However my blessings don’t stop there. My love for 4-H might just come from the Merritt’s. I love to hear the story of my grandparents meeting on the steps of the White House as they represented Nebraska as the 4-H Four Square Winners. Still to this day my family will go through my grandfather’s old papers on his registered Maines and his long line of show quarter horses. I love hearing people talk about how successful my Grandpa was in this tough industry, and even to this day my family and I wish we had his good eye to help us pick out our stock for the year. I love learning more about my family and am blessed to learn about the lives of my loved ones.

Mom:

Perhaps the biggest influence of agriculture in my lifetime. If anyone knows my Mom you know that pigs won’t be far behind. Growing up, raised by Nebraska 4-H’s Queen and King,she fell in love with the organization and has passed that down to my brothers and I. Her father, having a variety of operations, presented her with a chance to work on their feedlot growing up, show some awesome show horses, and be involved with showing livestock competitively. Her love for agriculture met her profession when  she traded out special education for a job at the local grain elevator. Though she was just  wanting to help out during the harvest season, her love for ag lead her to being the commodity trader for a feedlot and now a manager for a feed store. I have seen my mother put much time and money into spoiling my brothers and I with some awesome livestock, hotels for shows, and of course a fair amount of carnival food. I wouldn’t be as successful in FFA, 4-H or any other activities if it wasn’t for her support. Her ability to network with everyone in the industry shows me how important relationships are. I love sitting in the show barn doing nothing with her and aspire to be such as great of female agriculturalist as she is.

Dad:

The passing of my father last year has allowed me to learn so much about him in such a short time. Hearing stories about his success in high school and college rodeo inspires me to chase after my dreams. My father served as a regional director for both high school and college rodeo, which gives me a sense of where my strong leadership skills come from. Also the amount of support and friends he had, shows me that the all the relationships  built in the agriculture family are those of gold. 

Merritt:

My oldest brother is completely responsible for my future in agriculture. The year he left me to do my own chores had me worried, but being forced to be in the barn by myself made me realize his love spending time with his livestock. After chasing his dreams of judging livestock in college it has made me work hard to be more like him. From Casper College to South Dakota State, he has grown as an agriculturalist and man as he prepares to be in the workforce in agriculture. I can’t wait to see where this industry takes him.

Rhett:

Lastly my brother Rhett. Yep, you guessed it, Rhett is “that brother.” The one that is so close to home, but  we don’t ever see him because he is busy experiencing new things, but mostly you can’t get him out of the roping arena. Rhett has demonstrated the importance of finding your perfect place while at school where he has excelled in his rodeoing and academics. Rhett’s good work ethic, love for talking, and positive attitude will make him do great things while running the Keystone Cattle Company in the future. 

After thinking long  and hard about how the words “family ranches” are more appealing than operations it made me think about how my operation would differ if it weren’t for my family. Agriculture is one of the fastest advancing industries yet it sits strong on a foundation of tradition and family. The closeness of family operations prove to be than producing goods but instead making a living worth loving. The future of agriculture will continue to grow but the tradition of the family farms and ranches will stand strong for ever.

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Why drones?

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Why drones? What is causing such an increase in drones? In a time where technology is everything, it would only make sense for drones to be the new fad. The biggest question is what can they do for agriculture?

Drones and agriculture go together like peanut butter and jelly. It makes sense to use them to make the farmer and ranchers lives easier. How? There are several applications that can help make life on the farm a little easier.

First some background on drones. Drones are also known as UAV, which stands for an unmanned aerial vehicle. This means that they are flown by someone through a receiver on the ground. Did you know that the first flight of an unmanned aerial combat vehicle was in the early 1910s for the military? They started to focus more on UAV’s at that time to help with target training.

There are several types of drones as well. With all different types of drones out there, how are you supposed to know which one would work for your operation? That is a great question! Every operation is different and your needs with a drone with vary. Depending on the drone you pick you have to decide what you are going to use it for down the road. Will you be using it to check your cattle? What about flying across your fields to see your crop index? Those are questions you need to ask when you are shopping around.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0003.JPGI have seen application of a larger drone by Slant Range with a NDVI sensor. NDVI stands for Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. A NDVI sensor can measure the solar radiation that the plants put back out after absorbing it to carry out the process of photosynthesis. The sensor is finding the near-infrared light that the plants are putting off from its leaves. By using a NDVI sensor you can measure the plant productivity, how much rainfall may have occurred, weedy areas that may be in the field, and other applications. Infrared in the NDVI also can measure the amount of heat being put off. Using this application of NDVI, you can fly over your cattle herd and see if any of them may have a higher temperature than normal. You can also use the regular camera to fly over your herd to see if there are any changes occurring in the herd.

While attending Southeast Community College in Beatrice, NE, I have had the opportunity to learn some about drones. I have been able to apply the information I gathered from the drone, to the fields on campus and create prescriptions and suggestions. The drone I have been able to fly the most is the DJI Phantom 4. The students on campus have been able to fly over most of the land on campus and see what it looks like from above. We tested out the DJI app that you download to fly the drone and used some of the features.

With some of those applications and different drones in mind, you can narrow down what may work for your operation.

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Agriculture in the Classroom

Growing up in the middle of Omaha and growing up with agriculture I got the unique opportunity to see first-hand the disconnect between consumers and producers. I grew up on my family’s 38-acre farm with sheep, goats, horses, and pigs. My farm life experience taught me more than just about what the world agriculture means. It taught me responsibility, respect, leadership, how to be caring, work ethic, and determination; Each day I am thankful for the way I was raised.
With many Nebraskan’s removed from farms and ranches, a responsibility is given to us to share the story of agriculture. I have taken this responsibility personally. As an Agricultural and Environmental Science Communications major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln I am learning and growing as a communicator. I have found new tools and perspectives to help me reach a variety of audiences and then help them realize how important agriculture’s story is to me and why it should be important to them. One of those tools is the Agriculture in the Classroom Program.

 

catherine-aitcThe Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s signature program is Agriculture in the Classroom. This program creates standard based materials for Nebraska Youth and Educators. Nebraska provides resources such as books, posters, activities and lesson plans about beef, pork, corn and soybeans. Each of these resources explains what happens from production to the everyday use of agricultural products of consumers.  A part of Ag in the Classroom in Nebraska is the Ag Pen Pal program. This program helps urban classrooms in Nebraska relate with the agricultural community in Nebraska.
catherine-ag-in-the-classroom-logoThe Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom Program is a part of a larger program called National Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC). National AITC is supported by the United States Department of Agriculture and helps provide a network of opportunities. AITC is striving to help community members appreciate and understand the food and fiber system that supports us all. Their goal is to see agriculture is valued by all.

 
catherine-ag-in-the-classroomNational Agriculture in the Classroom is where I began my search for curriculum and resources that I use to teach urban youth in Omaha. Having teaching aids at your fingertips makes it impossible to say that you cannot share your agriculture experiences with whomever might have a question or misconception. If in any situation I need a resource to help communicate the ins and outs of agriculture production I can be sure to have unlimited help with the National and Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom Programs at my side.

 

catherine-ag-in-the-classroom-websiteWith many Nebraskan’s removed from the farm, a responsibility we now have is to share the story of agriculture. It is so important to me to see our society becoming agriculturally literate because the agricultural community has made me who I am. I owe my work ethic, friends, family, and future career to the agriculture industry.
I hope to someday have a career that allows me to help integrate agriculture into school curriculum, that reaches out in the marketplace to the general public about the real story of the products they are purchasing and that makes the importance of agriculture known on a local, state and national level.

 

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The Ag Sack Lunch Program: Educating the Future of Agriculture

By: Abby Steffen

ag-sack-lunchI grew up in Northeast Nebraska, in a very rural area. Most of my summer days were spent on my grandparent’s farm, learning about agriculture before I even knew what the word “agriculture” meant. I would run through corn and soybeans while they grew in the fields, I would sit and watch my grandpa bring the cows into the milk barn, I would giggle as baby calves fought over which one got to suck on my fingers. At the end of the day, I knew what the food was that was on my supper plate. I knew how it was raised, how it was harvested, and how much work was put into getting that food from farm to fridge to fork. Knowing these things humbled me in a way I cannot describe, but also gave me some peace of mind to be able to see what I was eating and putting into my body. I wish every kid in America would be able to grow up with these types of experiences, but I know that is not possible. There are many children who are now completely removed from farms and ranches. They aren’t provided with many opportunities to learn about agriculture. The Ag Sack Lunch program is trying to change that.
ag-sack-lunch2In 2010, the Ag Sack Lunch Program was created to educate Nebraska fourth-graders, teachers, and parents about the different agricultural industries in Nebraska, all while providing 5,000 sack lunches each year. Each Ag Sack Lunch Ambassador is given a set of presentation cards that give the children a visual to look at during the presentation. The cards have fun facts that help the students not only learn about the seven main industries in Nebraska, but also make connections about how these industries impact their lives.  They learn about how much land in Nebraska is devoted to farming and ranching, and also that 1 in every 4 jobs relates back to agriculture. The Program covers both specific sectors of the livestock industry, such as beef, dairy, swine, and poultry; and also crops like soybeans, corn, and wheat. In their sack lunches, the students receive a ham, roast beef, or turkey sandwich. They also get carrots, Fritos corn chips, a rice crispy bar, mayonnaise and mustard, and a deck of cards that have fun facts about each industry and look just like the cards the ambassador presents with. At the end of the presentation, the group walks through every item in their lunches and talks about which industry they came from.
ag-sack-lunch3This is now the Ag Sack Lunch Program’s seventh year and I have worked as an Ag Ambassador for two years. I can honestly say it has been one of the most rewarding and educational life experiences I have ever had. It has kept me humble and open minded, as I did not grow up in a very diverse agricultural area. For many classes I presented to, I was not surprised when students knew most of the answers. However, once I began to present to more urban centered schools, there were times I felt truly heartbroken. Some students I interacted with did not even know where the meat on their sandwich came from before the store. I could see the want to learn in the students’ eyes.  When it finally clicked for them, the smiles on their faces was enough to make me fall in love with the Ag Industry all over again.

ag-sack-lunch4Agriculture is a huge and important industry in the state of Nebraska. It is crucial to the economy, the environment, and of course, to providing enough food to feed the growing population. Unfortunately, as more and more generations are being removed from farms and ranches, agricultural knowledge is not being passed along. Not many people know how this industry works and there are not many schools in Nebraska who implement ag-related courses. How can we expect people to understand and care about an industry and lifestyle they aren’t even familiar with? This is why the ag-literacy work that we do in the Farm Bureau Crew and in programs like Ag Sack Lunch is so important. By learning how to communicate to people of different ages and lifestyles we can improve ag-literacy in Nebraska. We can get people more involved and interested in agriculture to strengthen the future of the industry. In The Crew, I get to share different stories in agriculture through videos, photography, social media and blogging. In Ag Sack Lunch, I get to talk to students about where I grew up and how important agriculture is to people, especially in rural areas.
The experiences I have gained by working with The Crew and as an Ag Sack Lunch Ambassador have really made me appreciate the area in which I grew up and the educators who understood the importance of our state’s Agricultural Industry. I have experienced first-hand that programs like The Crew and Ag Sack Lunch are so important and influential to the Agriculture Industry. In the future, it will be up to their generation to find more sustainable food practices in order to feed the growing population while keeping the economy and the environment in check. They are the future of agriculture, and sponsored programs like The Crew and Ag Sack Lunch are preparing them in fun and interactive ways!

 

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