DUMAS – More than 700 Moore County youth and adults were the first in the Texas Panhandle to participate in a recent Path to the Plate Youth Expo and agriculture education event, hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
The youth expo is a signature event of the statewide Path to the Plate initiative, said Dr. Angela Burkham, AgriLife Extension family and community health state program leader, Amarillo.
Path to the Plate is an unbiased look at how agriculture and the food that consumers eat affects their health. It is designed to provide relevant, current and factual information they can use to make informed decisions about agriculture and their health.
These youth expos are an expansion of the traditional agricultural literacy events, but are designed to specifically make the connection between agriculture and health for youth, said Danny Nusser, AgriLife Extension North Region program leader for agriculture and natural resources in Amarillo.
“We’ve taken a great educational program and made it even better,” Burkham said. “These expos increase the knowledge of youth regarding agriculture systems and their relationship to health.
“Social media carries misinformation about food, its origin and nutritional value. Our goal is to educate youth in order for them to make wise and informed consumer decisions,” she said.
Burkham said the Moore County event was the first of many that will be held in the following year.
Youth expos focus on students in a day-long educational event in which agriculture and health experts teach 15- to 20-minute rotating sessions. These sessions include displays and talking points to highlight commodities such as vegetables, fruits, beef, sheep and goats, pork, poultry and grains, providing factual information about the connection to one’s health.
In the Moore County events, Carolyn Prill-Bennett, AgriLife Extension family and community health agent, said the Path to the Plate program was presented to 305 fourth graders on Nov. 13 at the annual ag day, and 324 eighth graders attended the Path to the Plate Youth Expo on Nov. 14.
Texas Farm Bureau was a partner for both events, bringing their learning mobile laboratories, and the Moore County Farm Bureau provided meals for teachers and presenters each day. Additionally, the Southwest Dairy Farmers mobile dairy was a part of both events.
Members of the Moore County Extension Ag Committee assisted with planning and implementation, and presenters were comprised of outstanding 4-H and FFA members, AgriLife Extension agents and the North Plains Water District staff.
“The fourth-grade students were taught more traditional ag literacy, and we made sure to emphasize to the eighth graders that agriculture is where food comes from,” Prill-Bennett said. “We included a nutritional component and used all the Path to Plate resources.”
Kyle Lawless from Bayer Crop Science in Canyon spoke to the eighth graders on new technologies and the production benefits of GMO’s.
“We also discussed in the kickoff that the world population would soon outgrow agriculture production without advances in technology,” said Marcel Fischbacher, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent in Moore County.
More information on the Path to the Plate program can be found at http://pathtotheplate.tamu.edu/.