Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lets Take Note America

Talk of how to inform and accurately educate the public about agriculture and it's positive impacts on American society is a discussion that occurs at a multitude of ag-related meetings, conferences and forums. Well, let's take a look at what our neighbors to the north are doing...

Hello giant tent in the center of Calgary Stampede grounds, which is filled with live animals, a grain bin, computer programs about growing healthy crops, people in the industry to visit with you, posters, interactive activities and more, all with the intention of educating and showing people what Alberta agriculture is all about, why it's important, what they do to produce a safe food source, and countless other facts, figures and examples of ags importance to the country.
One sheep producers that was working in the tent informed us there is a people counter at the entrances, and at or over 35,000 people a day go through this during the Calgary Stampede.
That's over half of Wyoming's population that walks through this educational tent over the course of the Stampede.
Wow! That's a lot of people not tied to agriculture getting a realistic, positive look at what ag is all about, and what the people involved in ag do to put food on their tables. I'm thinking we Americans should take a look at what they're doing, so I took pictures of some of the things in the tent to show you.

There were educational charts that explained the value of agriculture produced foods, like beef, in a health diet. We use this same ZIP acronym here in America. There were also drawings for beef related prizes.

Interactive activities taught people about their food, like this one that showed where different cuts of meat were located on the animal.

The live animals were a huge hit with people of all ages. Here is the milk cow exhibit, which featured cows of different breeds, history of milk cows, differences between breeds, and other general information. At each animal station were producers to answer questions.

Right next to the milk cows was a dairy area, fittingly enough. More positive facts and figures about milk and dairy in a healthy diet.

Everything you can see had a purpose, and made a point about milk and dairy products. The tent was bursting with positive, truthful information, backed by facts, and made interesting to see and read about.

You could also participate in interactive activities, like milking Bluebell. Based on the line, Bluebell got milked A LOT over the course of the Stampede, and was a huge hit!

There were computer stations for kids, where they could learn about what it takes to grow healthy plants, and what Alberta farmers do to grow the food they eat.

A grain bin was set up to show people how grains were harvested and stored.

Lots of stuff for both kids and adults!

Agriculture doesn't just feed you, and the Canadians covered other ways it benefits their country, like showing how oilseed crops are used to produce biodiesel.

You could spin this plate around, and read different facts about Alberta lamb in the cut-out window.

As I mentioned earlier, the animals were by far the biggest hit. Here is the sheep exhibit.

No opportunity to share information was missed, and people were stopping to read it.

We visited with this man for quite a while - he's who told us about the numbers of people that go through each day. He was there to tell people about sheep, and was happy to do so.

This is what surprised Adam and I the most, and isn't something you would likely see anywhere in an "educate the public" related event.

A gilt and her piglets, in a farrowing crate. This display was packed with people, and clearly showed the pigs were all content in their crate. The mother had access to food and water, and her babies weren't getting squished. It showed hog farmers in a great light, as they should be represented.

People swarmed to get a glimpse of the momma and baby pigs, and as a result were exposed to what a farrowing crate really looks like, and how and why farmer's use them. See that man siting on the far side of the picture, he was the hog farmer, and man was he popular with these people, who had questions and comments to discuss with him. Loved this!

Also in the pig area were some weaner pigs, and a young boy (on the right) to tell people about them.

I was so impressed by this tent, and the huge impact it has in a just few days each year! I think it's an ingenious idea. As someone who lives in Wyoming, where another of the largest outdoor shows on earth (Cheyenne Frontier Days) occurs, and in one of the most agriculture-oriented states in our nation, I can't help but think of the potential to do something similar for tourists that attend our event. Great work Canadian agriculture!

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