Carbon County Ag Expo 2012
May 14, 2012
Fourth graders from around Carbon County gathered at the Fair Grounds in Rawlins, Wyo., to learn about a variety of topics related to agriculture, including how food gets to the plate and learning about livestock during the annual Ag Expo. The 2012 event was co-hosted by the University of Wyoming’s Carbon County Extension Office Staff and Carbon County Stock Growers.
Students rotated to each of the 17 stations when a warning horn sounded giving them equal time to get a feel for different aspects of ranch life and how they affect our lives, see where their food comes from, or simply have a chance to interact with live animals.
Gene Carrico discussed Property Rights, pointing out that even simple acts such as leaving a gate the way a person finds it, is a form of honoring the land owner’s rights. It is easy to understand a closed gate, but the owner may also have a reason for leaving a gate open so the general rule is “leave it the way you found it.”
Dan Braig, Wildlife Services, challenged the students to identify various animal pelts and discuss them. He acknowledged that encounters with wildlife that become pests, such as raccoons, may become enough of a problem that local people contact Wyoming Wildlife Services staff for assistance. Resolving wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist peacefully is just one of many services provided by the USDA APHIS agency that deals with Plant and Animal regulation.
Jean Runner, (Saratoga/Encampment/Rawlins) SER Conservation District, led a game of Ag Trivia, while Joan McGraw, Medicine Bow Conservation District, discussed and distributed tree trunk cross-sections showing how tree rings reveal not only the age of the tree, but show which years had more moisture and which years indicated drought. Conservation of natural resources is a basic concern in agriculture.
Josh Peterson displayed a variety of brands and branding irons as he explained the history of branding. He pointed out brands can be quite expensive as accurate records must be kept, and each species needs a separate brand. After having their questions answered, the group moved outdoors to try their hand at branding with an electric branding iron.
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Dr. Katie Flock, DVM, displayed Veterinary Tools and explained their purposes. One set of familiar instruments drew quite a reaction from the students when the various sizes of syringes with their needles progressed from small to an impressive proportion.
The Carbon County Extension Nutrition Specialist, Diane Saenz, combined several animated activities in her presentations. From Soil to Spoon, involving the children in listing steps how various foods such as ice cream and pizza relate back to the soil in some way. The group then moved outdoors to play a game where the children had to find a partner who held another picture making a matching pair showing beginning plant and final food product. The partners then answered questions about their food for the rest of the group – examples: cocoa bean on tree to final chocolate bar; pineapple, and Brussels Sprout. “How long from start to final food product?” “Would it grow in your back yard?” “How long from seed to maturity?” “What part of the plant do we eat?”
Shawna Potter led another lively activity, Ag Fact or Fairy Tale, which did a take-off on TV game shows where contestants knowing the correct answer raced to hit their buzzer first.
Sarah Smith and Judy Hamel, from CCHEC (Carbon County Higher Education Center) combined steps involved in growing plants. Each student planted a seed in a peat pot to take home. After learning the why and how of pollination they were reminded that after their seed grew and developed flowers, bees buzzing around their plant would indicate pollination was taking place.
Mae Smith, Carbon County Extension Ag, shared basic facts about Dairy Cows and pointed out that the familiar black and white Holsteins are the most common dairy breed. Since a Holstein cow can produce up to 6 gallons of milk a day weighing as much as 50 pounds she is happy to be milked. One fact that seemed to stump the children was that the cow had to have a calf before she could produce milk. After a demonstration on how to milk the life-size model, the children were given a chance to sit on the one-legged stool to try their hands at milking.
Joe James’ Roping area was a popular stop as the youngsters tried their skill at roping dummy steers after a quick how-to lesson. Students also enjoyed meeting Clyde Johnson’s pure-bred Border Collies and the goats that Clyde brought for demonstrating the herding skills of his Working Dogs.
The remainder of the live animal activities were held in the west end of the new Multi-Plex Building. 4-H members brought a variety of livestock for the Expo allowing the fourth graders to see the animals first hand as they learned about them.
Ty and Robert Espy displayed several breeds of live chickens, while sharing facts and showing a slide show about chickens.
Kurtis Hays displayed a sheep, and Darby Bowen had goats in a nearby pen that fascinated the observers.
Mabel Raymond and Courtney Dilworth discussed horse gear and care and gave the children a chance to see both a pony and horse. The fourth-graders seemed especially interested in the pigs displayed by Johanna and Joseph Horn.
Beef producer, Debbie Rodewald, gave a talk on the importance of eating meat. She emphasized that beef provides ZIP and helps your body have more energy. She explained ZIP stands for zinc, iron and protein and added that beef is also one of the best sources of B vitamins in the diet.
Rodewald pointed out that in addition to meat, cattle provide many other benefits ranging from improving the environment and recycling, to supplying a variety of bi-products used in household products, pharmaceuticals, components involved in day to day travel or common leather products. As a reminder for the students, she passed out small packets of familiar products containing beef bi-products including marshmallows, Gummy Bear candies, chewing gun and jerky.
The wide variety of topics and activities provided a well-rounded overview of the importance of agriculture in the students’ lives. As an adult observer long involved in agriculture, I was impressed with the opportunity the Ag Expo provided for the Carbon County fourth-graders to learn about this segment of their world around them.