by Jordan Anderson
I had the incredible opportunity to help with the Second Annual Husker Food Connection: Know What We Grow: Discovering Nebraska Agriculture. Husker Food Connection is a one-day event held on the plaza in front of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Union that’s geared to educate UNL students about Nebraska agriculture while having some fun! Even though it was a cold, blustery day, students of all backgrounds—urban and rural—stopped by to see the live animals, and of course get free stuff! (The HFC-branded cattle ear tag keychain was my favorite, hands-down.)
When chatting with numerous students about their impressions of Nebraska agriculture, we heard everything from “calves are cute, that’s it” to “oh, look at the cute goat!” (they were looking at the 4-day-old dairy calf). So many people are misinformed about agriculture. One student from Omaha was ecstatic telling me that she knew what a pivot was but that was the extent of her ag knowledge.
So where does that leave us … the students that have a passion and knowledge of agriculture? We have peer-to-peer interaction, but they don’t have the opportunity to get to know a farmer face-to-face.
The students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are making leaps and bounds to spread the word about agriculture to people young and old, all over the world.
“This summer in Costa Rica none of my program mates or my host family had any direct ties to agriculture. We would often talk about my experiences and my perspective of agriculture, which was something that they had not been exposed to. Having those types of conversations and being willing to discuss agriculture with anyone who has questions or misconceptions about the industry is how I advocate on a personal level.”
- Samantha Bryant, Food Science and Technology major
“Currently I work in an after school program for middle-school students in inner-city Lincoln, and I did a section on animals and animal agriculture. It was amazing how often these kids have no clue what I am talking about. Such as, they didn't know that there are two different types of cattle, those for milk and those for meat. It was so interesting to share with these kids where food comes from and see how surprised and interested they were.”
- Megan Kneifl, Agricultural Education major
“Earlier this year, Nebraska Farm Bureau received several thousand Facebook messages and comments (many harsh and negative) about their support for gestation crates used for pigs in Nebraska. As the current president of the UNL Collegiate Farm Bureau, I strongly encouraged each of our members to post either on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Facebook page or on their own timelines about their personal story of why they love agriculture to show others how farmers are working every day to find the best ways to protect their animals as they work together to feed the world.”
- Kelsey Ferris, Nutrition, Exercise, and Health Science major
Speaking of Facebook, there are competitions now that encourage college students to engage in agricultural advocacy through social media and blogging. U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) and Animal Ag Alliance started College Aggies Online four years ago. They offer scholarships each year to both student groups and individuals who earn the most points according to the set criteria. (For more information, check out: http://aggiesonline.ning.com/ )
It doesn’t matter if you choose social media, personal conversations, or writing editorials in the paper expressing your opinion, find what works best for you and dive in! The world of agriculture needs YOU to help be their voice. Our Cornhuskers are using their voice, why not you?