Teaching Minnesota Youth about Modern Agriculture
Beth Pagel, Marketing and Communications Director
firstname.lastname@example.org (507) 259-7529
Recently, a friend of my said, “There should be a camp for kids to go to where they can learn about farming!” “Well there is” I said, “It’s called, Farm Camp Minnesota!”
In 2010 a group of area farmers, business’, and organizations all put their heads together and decided it was time to do something about the disconnect that children have with the food on their plate. In 2011 the first Farm Camp Minnesota 1-day camp took place at Farmamerica near Waseca, MN. The goal was to provide opportunities for youth to learn about modern agriculture, where their food comes from, how their food is grown, and how farm products are used in people’s daily lives.
This sounded like a great idea to the staff here at All American Co-op and we wanted to be a part of it. So, when the Farm Camp Minnesota committee approached All American Co-op to ask if we would be interested in participating, of course we said “Yes!” All American Co-op is now in our 6th year of being a Gold Level sponsor of Farm Camp Minnesota. The camp is now offered four different days at three locations in Minnesota with the hopes that it will continue to grow and evolve.
I think we would all agree that Consumer Education is very important for the future of Agriculture. What better way than to bring school age students together for a fun day of interactive learning! I am not sure who has more fun, the kids or the volunteers there to teach. Stacy Hoffman, Livestock Production Specialist and myself have been involved with the Farm Camp Minnesota efforts from their early beginnings. Stacy and I have both acted as presenters for the Dairy station of the camp. We try to make things fun, interactive, and educational. We get to talk about all of the dairy products that kids see at the grocery store. We have recruited support from local producers like Karli Moger, Moger Farms and Bridgette Hoffman, North Creek Dairy; as well as industry support from Beth Schwertel from DariConcepts out of Zumbrota, MN as well as area dairy princess royalty. Bringing a “Real Dairy Farmer” to talk about what they do really ties it all together for the students. Beth’s job is a pretty fun one for the kids to learn about. Who wouldn’t want to know that the cheese for their mac-n-cheese, Doritos, and so many other fun foods are made right here in SE Minnesota.
The camp isn’t all about milk cows, cheese, and petting a baby calf. There are seven stations in all including Swine, Beef, Corn, Soybeans, Poultry, and Farm Equipment with presenters from the Minnesota Corn & Soybean Growers, Minnesota Pork Ambassadors, Minnesota Turkey Grower, Minnesota Beef Ambassadors, as well as overwhelming support from other industry partners like AgStar and the Minnesota Farm Bureau to name a few. To see all of the sponsors from throughout Minnesota visit the Sponsors page of the Farm Camp Minnesota website at www.farmcampminnesota.org
In 2016 pollinators were highlighted, students learned from a real bee-keeper about the importance of pollinators and campers got to take home seeds that they planted in a cup to be transplanted at home to start their own pollinator garden. For 2017, instead of pollinators, the Twin Cities Road Crew is going to join Farm Camp and offer an interactive round-up of the day and have some fun with the campers and their chaperones.
I have to tell you that Farm Camp Minnesota is something that campers look forward to coming back to again next year. I would bet that if you asked the adult chaperones that are there with the kids, they would say the same thing. The kids learn so much from the interactive activities and the chaperones ask awesome questions and really seem to want to know more. Some great conversations are had that I am sure are taken home with everyone that is involved. Personally, I feel this is the measure of a successful day of advocating; when everyone there goes home and has a new conversation that sparks another, and another, and another. This is how those of us in agriculture are going to get the word out that what we do every day is positive and important.
The dates and locations for Farm Camp Minnesota 2017 are:
- August 7th –Farmamerica, Waseca, MN
- August 8th – Farmamerica, Waseca, MN
- August 15th – Schmitt Family Farm, Rice, MN
- August 16th – Wolf Creek Dairy, Dundas, MN
The camp will be held from 9am to 3pm each day. Campers must be entering grades 3-6. Pre-registration is required. Early bird registration is $15 per camper if registered by June 10, or $25 after June 10th. Registration includes lunch, snack, a camp t-shirt, and a take home bag filled with lots of goodies and educational materials. For more information or to register a camper please go to www.farmcampminnesota.org and look for the Registration button on the home page.