Being part of the National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador Team requires me to do so many hours each year of presentations on agriculture. These presentations can be to groups of all ages and sizes. Usually the two main groups I speak to are schools groups and civic groups. They are the most abundant and the most accessible. However this semester finding time to get in schools has been a challenge since I am taking 17 hours of classes and working 18-20 hours a week. So this spring break I asked a friend from church back home if I could come to her kindergarten class at Athens Bible School to do a presentation, this ended up leading to 4 days,10 presentations about 8 different topics. It has been a busy week to say the least.
Its been a good experience having to study up on some topics I am not as familiar with. Since it has been a few months since I have been in the classroom I had forgotten how much fun it can be, how talkative kids can be, and what interesting questions they ask.
- How old are you?
- Can you drive?
- Are you married?
Not only am I surprised at the things kids do and ask, but I’m also still caught off guard by how little they know about their food. With the average American being three generations removed from the farm I have come to expect each person I come in contact with as having little to no agriculture knowledge. Although I I live in rural Alabama and go to a Land-Grant institution people are still clueless. Being in schools is an excellent reminder how clueless people/kids can be. A few things that stick out in my mind:
- When shown a picture of Chick-fil-a chicken nuggets one girl said they came from cows (thanks to their marketing campaign).
- When asked what do we get our jelly from for our PB&J sandwiches one boy said jellyfish (thanks Sponge Bob)
- When asked the age old question if brown cows produce chocolate milk…responses of yes
Just assuming people know information because of living in Alabama or going to an “ag school” is dangerous. If we assume people know the facts they will keep believing the same false information. Some misconceptions aren’t necessarily dangerous, but others are more weightier manners and should definitely be explained when the opportunity arises. (ex. the “if its not organic its not healthy” belief, hormones etc.)
At the end of the day of presenting you hope each child has learned something that they can not only use themselves, but can go home and share with parents and siblings. My job is to plant those seeds of knowledge in their mind and hope that as the child grows older they continue to cultivate and grow those seeds.
The last group I had today at ABS was Mrs. Adam’s 2nd grade class was extremely enthusiastic when I arrived. They were all excited and asked their teacher if I was “The Chicken Whisperer”. So I have officially been dubbed the Chicken Whisperer, now my only question is can I have my own TV show?
You really know where life is going to take you next, and it might just be South Dakota. Yes, South Dakota home to
The World’s Only Corn Palace (I’ve been there and yes its made of corn)
The Mashed Potato Wrestling Contest
Cows (more cows in SD than people)
and this summer…. ME!
This summer I have accepted an internship with Monsanto and I will be covering a territory that covers parts of North and South Dakota. I will be working with a brand that we do not grow in the Southeast, it is called Channel.
I will have approximately 40 growers that I will be working with and promoting some of Channel’s varieties of corn, soybeans and some alfalfa. It is definitely going to be an experience. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m also a little apprehensive about moving 1,200 miles away. It is a comfort is knowing that is is for three months and not permanently. I do believe it will be helpful in figuring out what I want do career wise as I get ready to graduate in next May. I have been to South Dakota once before, but I’ve learned a lot about South Dakota in the past few weeks, there is not a lot there when it comes to people, churches, temporary housing etc. I am looking forward to no humidity, it will be very nice compared to the temperatures I am used to in the summer. I know a few people up there and have made a few new connections since finding out that is where I’m going to be located. If you know anyone in South Dakota or if you have any suggestions of things I should see/do while I’m there pass them along to me!