SALEM,Ore., (10/23/2015) – In Oregon, many fear there is a major problem when it comes to youth and agriculture. The problem? Many youth don’t understand what agriculture is or where their food comes from. The challenge? Finding a way to bring agriculture back to the classroom. One solution? Urban Ag Fest.

On Thursday and Friday several groups representing various agricultural commodities joined together to create an educational, agriculture fair of sorts for children third grade through middle school. One of these groups was the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.

Brenda Knobloch is the director of the Learning Gardens program from Salem-Keizer Education Foundation and was a key player in putting together this year’s Urban Ag Fest. “It’s a way to teach students about Oregon agriculture and it connects to their science standards,” she said. Knobloch was excited to have the cattlemen present at the event. “Cattle are the number one agricultural commodity and we want them (students) to know about all aspects of Oregon agriculture.”

The OCA booth featured an informational board and a trivia wheel that kids spun and were in turn asked a question for the category the wheel arrow landed on. Questions varied from cow specific questions like asking how many compartments a cow’s stomach has, to asking whether hamburgers or chicken strips come from cows. Every student walked away with a ranching bookmark or sticker and a new-found knowledge of the ranching industry.

The booth was staffed by OCA staff and volunteers. One of these volunteers was Oregon State University student and OCA intern Bailey Jenks. Jenks felt the cattlemen’s presence at the Urban Ag Fest was important. “So many kids think that their food comes from grocery stores,” Jenks said. “It’s really important to make the connection between farms and ranches to the food on their plates at home.”

Jamie Ramsey-Dreher visited the OCA Urban Ag Fest booth with a group of children from Englewood Elementary. She said she felt the kids enjoyed learning things about ranching. “It (Urban Ag Fest booths) shows them where food comes from.” She also felt the activity taught the children about good work ethic.

Around 1,000 students are expected to come through the booth between Thursday and Friday. If you encounter any third-fifth graders in the Salem area this weekend, you can be sure if you were to ask them if how many compartments a cow’s stomach has, they would say four.

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association was founded in 1913 and works to promote environmentally and socially sound industry practices, improve and strengthen the economics of the industry, and protect its industry communities and private property rights.

By Kayli Hanley

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