Writer: Paul Schattenberg, 210-859-5752, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contacts: Nelda Speller, 210-631-0400, email@example.com
David Rodriguez, 210-631-0400, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruby Zavala, 210-631-0400, Ruby.email@example.com
Natalie Cervantes, 210-631-0400, firstname.lastname@example.org
Derrick Bruton, 972-952-9264, email@example.com
SAN ANTONIO – An educational agency known for its ties to agriculture in the Lone Star State will be involved in numerous activities at this year’s San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will present educational exhibits and hands-on activities related to agriculture, horticulture, entomology, water conservation and more at the Feb. 9-26 event. In addition, organizations affiliated with the agency will be involved in a wide variety of activities throughout the 18-day event.
“Our main presence at this year’s stock show and rodeo will be in the Family Fair area of the rodeo grounds at the Little Buckaroo Farm tent,” said Nelda Speller, AgriLife Extension county director, Bexar County. “Little Buckaroo Farms is presented by H-E-B in cooperation with AgriLife Extension and the agency’s Bexar County Master Gardener and Guadalupe County Master Gardener volunteer horticulture associations.”
Speller said Little Buckaroo Farms offers visitors a chance to see the agricultural origins of the food and fiber needed for daily living and agricultural food production from farm and ranch operations to the kitchen table.
This year’s exhibits and displays include those related to aquaponics, gardening and horticulture, water conservation and farm animals. There also will be a honeybee display and educational presentation by the Alamo Area Beekeepers Association.
“We’ll have a variety of hands-on activities for the kids visiting the exhibit,” said Ruby Zavala, AgriLife Extension youth gardens coordinator for Bexar County. “These will include the Butterfly Life Cycle activity on Feb. 11-12, a Name That Veggie activity on Feb. 18-20 and a Pot-A-Plant activity on Feb. 25-26.”
Zavala said these hands-on activities are very popular with young attendees and provide them a unique opportunity to learn more about agriculture, horticulture and the natural world.
“Through these activities, we want to help young people gain a respect and appreciation for nature as well as an understanding of the need to protect and conserve our natural resources,” Zavala said.
David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension horticulturist for Bexar County, said the agency will also present a number of gardening and horticulture-related exhibits and activities.
“We will have an exhibit in the Little Buckaroo Farms tent where people can get gardening advice from those in our Bexar County Master Gardener volunteer horticulture program and Guadalupe County Master Gardener volunteer program,” Rodriguez said. “Visitors can see displays of vegetable gardening and container gardening and will also be able to purchase satsuma mandarin orange plants as well as this year’s rodeo tomato.”
He said this year’s tomato will be the HM1823.
“The HM1823 is a tomato that performed very well in our tomato trials,” he said. “It has a good sugar-to-acid ratio and people will like the taste. It produces a medium- to large-size tomato, with the large-size tomato weighing up to a pound.”
Rodriguez noted there also will be a tree giveaway from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on both Feb. 18 and Feb. 25, as long as supplies last.
Natalie Cervantes, AgriLife Extension agent for 4-H youth development in Bexar County, said 4-H members from throughout the county and beyond will be taking part in a wide variety of activities during the stock show and rodeo.
“Texas 4-H is the youth development program of AgriLife Extension,” Cervantes noted. “Throughout the stock show and rodeo, 4-H’ers from Bexar and other counties will be showing steers, swine, lambs, goats, chickens and other animals. They will also be participating in a food challenge, Youth Day activities, horse judging and a landscape skillathon as well as other contests related to public speaking, consumer decision-making and shooting.”
Cervantes said older 4-H members will also lead tours for elementary school students, during which they will show them around the San Antonio Livestock Exposition grounds and explain the importance of agriculture in daily life.
On Feb. 17, 4-H and FFA members will participate in the second annual Agrobotics Challenge to be held in the Morris Activity Center on the event grounds, said Derrick Bruton, AgriLife Extension program specialist for 4-H youth development. Bruton, who is based at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas, is coordinating the robotics activity.
“In this challenge, 40 teams of three to six members ages 11 to 18 from throughout the state will compete in a unique contest where they program a robot to perform an agriculture-based set of tasks,” Bruton said.
Each team will use the LEGO Mindstorms robotics kit and will have three hours to build, program and test their robot. They will be judged not only on task completion but also on teamwork, communication and leadership.
“Youth development is an important component of AgriLife Extension, and these activities and opportunities give youth a chance to be involved not only in agriculture but also in the areas of nutrition, horticulture, science and technology — all while developing character and useful life skills,” Cervantes said.
For more information, go to http://www.sarodeo.com/attractions/little-buckaroo-farms.