By Jess Milstein, Colorado State University
Take a minute and think about agriculture. Think about the joys and discomforts of daily life and the ability that each individual has to change the world. With every positive thought, there are also negative forces that drive down agriculture. These types of thoughts are the ones that can be uninformed. Agricultural Adventure on Campus was an event created to educate college students about agriculture, where their food comes from and why it is important to care about choices made. Emily Rudder, a past Colorado state FFA officer, said, “This event helped educate people about the issues that are near and dear to their hearts, and although they may not have changed their minds, they know both sides of the issue . . . that’s what literacy is all about.”
Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences promotes the agricultural family and on April 16, 2013, that family pulled together to offer the students at the university the opportunity to learn about agriculture in a new and innovative way. The agricultural student organizations came together to represent the agricultural science college and Colorado commodity groups, such as the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado Corn, Colorado Potato Growers, Colorado Bee Keepers Association, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and CommonGround. More support was pulled in from the Associated Students of Colorado State University, Colorado Machinery, Colorado 4-H Foundation, Tri-State, OCIA, 21st Century Equipment, Colorado Lamb Growers, Colorado FFA Foundation and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.
The day itself was successful despite the weather, which was wet, cold and snowy but ideal for Colorado agriculturalists who have been struggling through the drought. We welcomed the moisture with open arms, even though it caused our event to be moved inside. Even with the bad weather, the response from the students was phenomenal; more than 200 students came through and had the opportunity to interact with various student organizations and commodity groups to learn about agriculture. Co-chair Aubriel Jones said, “It was a great experience, and I am really looking forward to next year's Ag Adventure on Campus!”
The biggest opportunity presented during the day was to work with Trent Loos, an agricultural advocate, cattle rancher and radio man from Nebraska. As the day wore on, Trent pulled non-agriculture student voices from the crowd and developed a relationship to gain their perspective about agriculture. He helped bridge the gap between agriculture and consumers because we were able to understand their concerns for the future of agriculture. It was interesting to see the responses that students had. Shelby McCracken, a national spokesperson for agriculture, said, “Trent was great at engaging the students and was able to bring up touchy topics that are hard to talk about in a professional way. He was well educated and allowed the students to understand how to handle tough and tight situations.”
After the event, the college and the Associated Students of Colorado State University hosted Trent as the moderator and keynote speaker for the first Agricultural Confessions, where students, community, faculty and more were invited to attend a dinner and discuss issues involved in agriculture and food production.
The students who were involved had a wonderful experience. Savannah Martinez, an agricultural education/equine science major attended the event all day and said, “Agricultural Adventure was a great event that the College of Agricultural Sciences can use to reach out to other students at CSU in a non-formal setting. Agricultural Confessions was an eye-opening, fun discussion…Trent Loos was an inspiring speaker who helped unite the College of Agricultural Sciences students with fellow Rams.”
Overall, the event was successful and hopefully it will continue on for years to come so that people can continue to become educated about agriculture. Shelby McCracken said, “This was a great opportunity for us to interact with those who are interested yet not familiar with agriculture. People came in wanting to learn about agriculture and were educated in an informal setting through conversation and dialogue.”