WHAT IS YOUR PASSION? My passion is teaching our youth as well as adults at times about the importance of agriculture. This time of the year ends my nine months of fulfilling my passion. My year starts with the beginning of the spring season and ends with the end of the fall season in teaching about “Where Does Your Food Come From?”
At the Fast Food Farm the youth become physically involved in the growing process of their food.
Through hands-on activities they learn how the weather affects the plants, and what happens to the food when it leaves the farm. They also learn about food nutrition, food preparation, and food processing.
In working with the Ag Science students throughout the school year I have seen them grow in leadership and character to become leaders in our community. At the Fast Food Farm students learn how to respect the land as they discover how to cultivate and prepare the soil for planting.
Throughout the nine months over 5000 students are learning about “Where Does Your Food Come From?” It is so rewarding to see our youth connect to the soil, plants, animals, and the source of their foods.
As a young child, my father was a rice farmer in Crowley, Louisiana; “The Rice Capital of America”. Now as an adult I live in Arkansas, rice producing state.
Arkansas is the nation’s largest rice growing state, producing half of the nation’s rice and nearly nine billion pounds annually. Arkansas ranks first among rice producing states.
Rice production is concentrated in the eastern half of the state. The top five rice producing counties are Arkansas, Poinsett, Cross, Lawrence and Lonoke. Arkansas rice is sodium, cholesterol and gluten free. Rice has only a trace of fat and has not trans fat or saturated fat.
This week at the Fast Food Farm we are Harvesting for the Needy. As part of the Fast Food Farm project the Ag Science classes and the Pro-Start classes plant seeds in late summer and early fall on 15 rows. Once a week the Ag Science students care for the plants until it is time for harvest. What perfect timing for harvest, just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday. This week we harvested 90 family bags of broccoli, green beans, turnips, peas, corn, and lettuce and donated to the St. Vincent de Paul for the Thanksgiving baskets for the Needy.
Ag Science students and Pro-Start students donating vegetables to the needy.
It was 12 years ago that I was so inspired by Farm Bureau Federation to begin an educational farm, the “Fast Food Farm.” The farm provides a stimulating, healthy and beautiful setting where children become connected to the soil, plants, animals, and the source of their foods. It is at the farm we began teaching with a “Hands-on, Nose-on, Both Feet-in approach to learning about “Where Does Your Food Come From?” The non-profit organization was founded in 2001 and began its journey of bringing about the awareness of agriculture by engaging the students in planting the seeds and through a variety of projects and hands-on activities. The food plots were created in the shape of a hamburger, hot dog, french fries, taco, and a chicken, and in each plot planted or raised what it takes to make up the fast food item. Important lessons about nature and the basic needs of life, all relating to agriculture and the environment, are taught to children and adults of all ages.
This theme for the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee program of work has shown a depth of continued commitment to preparing women as leaders. We set up training programs and conferences; Boot Camp for media and leadership training; and offer literature and educational information to help farm women from all corners of the United States – to step up and speak out for their agricultural industry. May they lead the way toward strengthening the ideals of farm families and promote a positive image of their agricultural industry to consumers.
We are proud of all the farm women leaders who have “engaged” this leadership role; who are “empowered” to represent their ideals and way of life; and who are “strong” enough to lead the way toward a better understanding for everyone of how farmers produce food, fiber and fuel for today’s world.
The 4-H program has been a huge part of my life. While there are many diverse clubs within the youth development program, I mostly stuck to what I knew – raising lambs! I did go off the beaten path to raise two market goats, learn about citizenship and grow flowers and other plants with younger community members; those stories are for another day.
Raising lambs among other young leaders was a special part of growing up. I started helping my dad, mom and sister in the sheep barn before I was 4-H age. I never did officially become a “cloverbud” but I was there, learning from the older members about animal care, respectful behavior and countless other lessons. One huge lesson of 4-H was understanding the difference between being an “animal person” and being a “pet person.” I love raising sheep and lambs, but I understand that I can’t keep every sheep I’ve ever seen live a happy life on our farm, and the meat that comes from those animals provide my family and others’ with essential nutrients to carry on.
I feel so fortunate to have grown up learning to “make the best better” by pledging …”my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”