M.Carden, UF/IFAS Extension, Marion County, Ocala FL.
Situation: Today’s youth face a widening gap in their understanding of agricultural products, specifically, how food comes from the farm to the table. Over 200 years ago, 90 percent of the U.S. population lived on farms and produced their own food to eat. Currently, only two percent of the population produces the food they eat, including fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy. (Prax, 2010). Prax, V. (2010, April 28). American family farmers feed 155 people each- 2% Americans farm. Retrieved from: http://www.animalsmart.org/animals-and-the-environment/comparing-agriculture-of-the-past-with-today
Methods: Agriscience Sampler Camp targets youth ages 10-15 to increase their awareness and understanding of agriculture related to food systems, food science and animal science. Using the My Financial Future curriculum.
Taking a hands-on approach youth visited multiple farms and a local farmers’ market to shop for fresh produce. They then used the food they bought to prepare a healthy meal. The following locations were visited on guided teaching tours: the UF/IFAS Equine Science Center, UF/IFAS Teaching Dairy, Ocala Wildlife Sanctuary, Santa Fe Teaching Zoo, and Health Happens Farmers Market. A special guest visit was provided from Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary. Both food science and animal science topics were covered by 4-H staff. Additional activities included: making ice cream as part of dairy science, edible soil profile, making a healthy smoothie, learning about reptiles, and making pretzels (learning about yeast/leavening agents).
Results: Campers completed a written pre and posttest to evaluate the program. Test results showed a 28% increase in the information they learned throughout the week. Best of all, campers had fun while learning.
Conclusion: Agriscience Sampler Camp increases agricultural awareness, allows youth to participate in their food choices and gain knowledge relating to food systems.