Colorado State University Students to Teach Thousands of Third-Graders about Food, Fiber

Third-graders across the Poudre School District will round up on Sept. 26 and 27 for their big field trip of the school year – a visit to Colorado State University’s research farm to learn about the sources of their food and fiber.

Nearly 2,000 students from the Fort Collins area will visit CSU’s Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center for the 12th annual Ag Adventure. The program will run 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each day.

The youngsters will come from 72 classrooms in northern Colorado for hands-on lessons about the science of agriculture and the intricacies of food production.

They will see cattle, sheep and horses. Among other subjects, the third-graders will learn about livestock nutrition, soil complexity, erosion control, meat safety and climactic needs for growing fruits and vegetables. They also will delve into the issues of world hunger and food security.

All are subjects considered daily by farmers, ranchers and others in the contemporary agricultural industry.

“We hope students will take away the message that their food doesn’t come from the grocery store, that they will have an understanding of the breadth of agriculture,” said Marshall Frasier, a professor in the CSU Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, who oversees Ag Adventure.

Notably, the Ag Adventure program directly links to third-grade curriculum standards, so the field trip provides connections to classroom teaching throughout the academic year. Sixteen learning centers tie in math, science, history, geography and other subjects.

“Each learning center at Ag Adventure relates to the new Colorado third-grade standards,” said Sophie Testerman, a CSU senior studying agricultural education, who is helping to plan the program. “Our goal is to provide students with an experience they will remember. We also hope that our Ag Adventure can be used as a model for teaching agriculture in the classroom across the state.”

About 200 student volunteers in CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences are helping to plan and run Ag Adventure.

The collegiate volunteers said they hope to instill a fuller appreciation for agriculture among third-graders, while also providing fun and lasting memories. Maybe, the CSU students said, they will even encourage some of the young attendees to pursue science-based agricultural careers to help feed the world.

“Most of the students who come are removed from agriculture and don’t know where their food and fiber come from,” said Eliza Poet, a senior studying animal science who is co-chair of Ag Adventure. “Our goal is to give them a base of knowledge that will grow because of their curiosity.”

Agreed co-chair Brittany Dannewitz, a junior in animal science, “I got involved in Ag Adventure because I love kids and how they just love to learn and absorb so much at this age. This is about the age that I realized how amazing agriculture is and when I decided I wanted to be part of it.”