By: Paul Schattenberg, 210-859-5752, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contacts: Nora Tapia, 210-631-0400, Nora.email@example.com
Natalie Cervantes, 210-631-0400, firstname.lastname@example.org
SAN ANTONIO – More than 1,100 third- and fourth-grade students from elementary schools throughout Bexar County got a close-up look at agriculture during the recent Kids, Kows and More program in San Antonio.
The three-day program, presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Southwest Dairy Farmers, was held on the grounds of the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Students visited several educational stations where they were given presentations on a variety of agricultural products. The stations included a mobile dairy with milk cow and hands-on and interactive displays relating to cheese-making, beef cattle, bee and honey production, nutrition and water use, and conservation.
Presenters included representatives from AgriLife Extension, Southwest Dairy Farmers, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Bexar County Master Gardeners and Texas Cattlewomen’s Association. Each presenter spent about 20 minutes on their topic, engaging students by calling on them to answer questions and showing them agricultural product samples.
Lisa Lagescharr, who is this year’s Miss Rodeo Texas, was the event’s guest of honor. Lagescharr assisted with the beef presentation and made herself available for photographs with the students.
“It’s really important to have events to educate youth on the role agriculture plays in all our lives,” said Nelda Speller, AgriLife Extension county director, Bexar County. “Kids, Kows and More shows them the basics of agriculture and how it fits in with things like nutrition, health, wellness and taking care of the environment.”
Speller said she appreciated the efforts of the agencies and organizations involved in presenting the Kids, Kows and More program and the San Antonio Livestock Exposition for allowing them to hold the program on the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo grounds.
Nora Tapia, AgriLife Extension youth outreach educator for Bexar County, was one of the program coordinators.
“Through this program, youth learn more about agriculture and where their food comes from,” she said. “They also learn about the fiber that’s used to make the clothes they wear and get to see some of the animals used for agricultural production.”
Tapia said the program also helps give “city kids” an idea of what rural life is like.
“I really liked the food and nutrition part,” said Jocelyn Ochoa, a third-grader from Sun Valley Elementary. “I also got to learn about how to milk a cow and how cheese is made and the different kinds of cheese.”
Sam Womble, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for Bexar County, said the visual and participatory aspects of the program were ideal for youth.
“The kids get to learn about agriculture in a hands-on and interactive way,” Womble said. “They get to see the animals and equipment used in agricultural operations.”
Womble said parents who accompanied their children also seemed to enjoy the event.
“I think many of the parents had never been so close to a milk cow or seen a milking machine,” he said. “They seemed to be just as interested and engaged as their kids. It was great the moms and dads who came were involved in the program and supported this learning opportunity for their kids.”
Elisa Tellez-Trevino, a third-grade teacher and group leader from Rayburn Elementary, coordinated bringing students from all third-grade classes at her school, located in the Harlandale Independent School District.
“I brought about 60 kids with me from three third-grade classes at Rayburn,” she said. “The program was very educational, and a lot of what the kids learned correlates with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards set by the state. The students were also were able to hear about the water cycle and nutrition, both of which are very important to them in learning more about science.”
Speller said Kids, Kows and More also introduces young people to farming, ranching and other agriculture-related activities so one day they may possibly consider a career in commercial agriculture.
“With less than 2 percent of the population of the U.S. producing almost all of the food, it’s vital that we let young people know just how important agriculture is and why they might want to be involved in some aspect of agricultural production,” she said.
For more information on Kids, Kows and More, contact Tapia or Natalie Cervantes at 210-631-0400.