Cowbelles bring ag to area fourth graders
The Laramie County Cowbelles and a slew of volunteers from Cheyenne’s three FFA chapters welcomed about 900 local fourth graders to the Archer Complex Tuesday and Wednesday to their annual Ag Expo on Sept. 17 and 18. In about its 13th year, the expo moved to the newly built Archer Complex this year.
The annual event brings elementary students face to face with farming equipment and livestock and offers hands on time with experts in topics including wildlife management, crop production, soil and resource conservation, the dairy industry, how Wyoming producers grow food while coping with weather challenges, common livestock management practices, and beekeeping.
One of the stations educates students about how beef is part of a healthy diet, something the Cowbelles believe in and is part of their mission to promote the industry, especially as more young people are removed from production agriculture.
Michelle Goertz, a member of the group, said fourth graders learn about state history in the curriculum so tying in information about the state’s diverse and large agricultural industry is well timed.
“They’re a good age,” Goertz said. “They’re old enough to learn about where their food comes from and young enough to be interested.”
Goertz said children involved in the 4-H program get a taste of where their food comes from and what it takes to raise an animal or crop to provide food for a community.
“There are so many kids who don’t have that experience,” she said. “Every year, we get kids who we ask where their food comes from and their answer is the grocery store. We can start teaching this now — where their food comes from and why it’s important to know where their food comes from and the amount of effort it takes to produce that food. It’s more than going to the store and picking it off the shelf.”
To bring Wyoming agriculture to such a large number of students involves a number of presenters including 4Rivers Equipment, who supplied tractors and equipment, Wyoming Fish and Game, the Laramie County Conservation District, the University of Wyoming Agriculture Education Department, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, the Colorado Dairy Association, State of Wyoming predator control experts, Bob Wagner’s cattle dogs, High West Energy, and the Laramie County Fair staff.
About 50 volunteers from Frontier FFA, Big County FFA, and High Plains FFA helped with the stations, as well as members of the Laramie County Community College Block and Bridle Club and members of the Laramie County Cowbelles.
Goertz said there are a number of teachers who have brought their fourth grade classes annually to allow students the opportunity to learn about agriculture. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.