Thousands of Colorado State University students, alumni and friends attended the 32nd annual CSU Ag Day, which celebrates Colorado-grown food.
Ag Day showcases the bounty of Colorado agriculture while funding scholarships for students in the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences.
During 2012-13 school year, 20 CSU students received Ag Day scholarships.
“The College of Agricultural Sciences is pleased to help host Ag Day. It’s a hallmark event at CSU, and draws more than 3,000 people for a delicious game-day meal and a celebration of our state’s rich agricultural heritage,” said Craig Beyrouty, college dean and event co-chair. “Beyond the fun, it’s amazing to consider how many students have benefited from Ag Day scholarships.”
Colorado’s leading commodity groups partner with the College of Agricultural Sciences to plan the event and provide the Ag Day feast.
The menu included Colorado beef, pork, lamb, potatoes, beans, wheat and dairy products, watermelon and drinks.
One of the industry groups that attended the event represented lamb growers. Carol Heupel, a lamb producer out of Weldona, Colo., attend the event with her husband, Kurt, and helped to serve lamb to Colorado consumers.
“I enjoyed meeting the people and hearing how much they love the lamb that is served. One lady told me she has been waiting 364 days for this,” she stated.
Supporting the students at CSU is important to Heupel.
“Since I was an ag student and am actively involved in agriculture, I can see how important it is for young people to be educated in ag science and exposed to many aspects of agriculture and how it affects every human on the planet. We need smart, thoughtful young people that can think outside the box to be able to stay ahead of the game,” she stated.
The Heupels own Heupel Farms and have been raising sheep for many years.
“I started raising sheep as a FFA project 39 years ago. My husband is from a sheep family and when we married we started our own flock,” she explained.
She added, “Personally I think it did make a difference to some people I actually had conversations with when I told them I was a producer. Some asked me questions about our operation and sheep in general.”
The Heupels own registered Suffolks.
“We run 30-35 ewes and replacement ewe lambs. Our main business with the sheep is selling range rams. A range ram is a ram or group of rams that are sold to commercial producers that generally run a thousand or more head of white face ewes,” she said.
She continued, “White face breeds are generally known for their great mothering abilities, better wool quality and naturally herd together better. A Suffolk, which is a black-faced breed is a terminal sire breed. A Suffolk grows fast and has better meat qualities than the white face breeds do. By crossing the two types of sheep you get good hybrid vigor and a perfect lamb that can go out on the mountains with their moms all summer and come down and go into the feedlots here in northern Colorado.”
Colorado raises more lamb than many people realize.
“Colorado is such an important sheep state. We have grazing land for the commercial producers, feedlots, and close markets in Greeley and Denver. We are proud to part of this great industry and proud to promote our lamb to customers,” she said.
Gov. John Hickenlooper recently signed a State of Colorado Proclamation that designates Sept. 28, 2013, as CSU Ag Day.
“This ‘green’ event encourages consumers to buy locally,” the proclamation states in part. “CSU and its partners continue to help ensure a positive future for Colorado’s agricultural industry — an industry that plays a vital role in our state’s economy.”
Since 1981 Ag Day, hosted by Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, along with Colorado agricultural organizations and associations, is a nonprofit event with Ag Day proceeds furnishing scholarships to Colorado State University agricultural science students. Colorado agricultural growers and producers prepare Colorado’s premier outdoor barbecue from quality Colorado food products.
Beef was a big hit again this year. Tami Arnold, director of marketing at the Colorado Beef Council, helped serve at the beef booth.
“My favorite part about ag day is really two-fold. I love we get the chance to raise awareness of the cattle and beef industry in Colorado with the supporters who come to Ag Day. Secondly, it’s always fun to see folks that you might not get to see, except for at Ag Day every year,” she said.
She believes Ag Day is a worth-while event to help support youth.
“Like the old FFA saying goes, agriculture is more than cows and plows. Agriculture reaches into the far depths of our everyday lives, it’s not just about the food that is on our tables. We need youth to pursue agriculture avenues in the communications, science, computer and business arenas, among others. Without our agricultural youth staying involved in some area of agriculture we’re going to fall further and further behind in not only feeding the world, but relaying the importance of agriculture to consumers who are removed from farming and ranching.”
Ag day is also a good chance to educate consumers about their food, and where is comes from.
“Since Ag Day is more about folks coming out to enjoy the wide array of Colorado products, we do more talking to consumers than anything. We get a lot of questions about what is being served, which in turn, we have a little anatomy lesson with them about where the cuts come from in the animals. There are also random questions about the number of cattle in Colorado, how many ranchers there are, etc. Every little bit of information that we can relay to the consumer is a small step forward in helping them understand the importance of agriculture and the beef industry in Colorado,” Arnold stated.
Ag Day began in 1981 as a celebration of Colorado’s ag history.
Agriculture is a vital aspect of the state’s economy, and the second-largest industry in Colorado.
Originally, 10 commodity groups attended ag day, and about 300 fans participated in the meal.
Today, 20 commodity groups attend the events and provide fresh, Colorado-grown food.
The event has provided significant scholarship support. Since 2000 alone, Ag Day has funded more than 125 scholarships totaling more than $225,000 for agricultural students, records show.
“My family is a middle-class family and has found it difficult to support my education to reach my lifelong goals, which is why I am deeply grateful for the gift that helps students like me reach their goals in agriculture,” student Kaitlin Wright, pursuing a double major in animal science and equine science, wrote in a scholarship thank-you note.
The barbecue was open to the public and preceded the football game between the CSU Rams and UTEP Miners.
CSU won the game 59-42.
The northern Colorado band Luke and The Cool Hands entertained the crowd while attendees ate their meal. ❖