Author: Janice Cowan, OSU Extension, 4-H Youth Development and Home Horticulture
Publish Date: Spring 2016
Many youth believe their food just comes from the store in nice packages. In 2007, the Baker County OSU Extension Service, the Baker County Farm Bureau, the Soil & Water Conservation District, and the Baker County School District came together and designed an annual outdoor agricultural event for 5th grade youth. Ten years later, more than 1800 youth have participated in “Field to Fork.”
The purpose of the Field to Fork program is to provide interactive learning stations that demonstrate where food comes from and how it gets to the store. The program includes a series of classes taught by university faculty and community professionals:
Soils: More than Dirt – students make a soil horizon;
Plants: Growing in a Glove – students do a seed germinating experiment;
Water: The Incredible Resource – students review the water cycle, watersheds, and water contamination;
Harvesting a Crop – students learn about equipment and the challenges farmers encounter when harvesting;
Commodities: A Day Without Agriculture – students learn where everyday products come from;
Let’s Put It All Together – students review all the classes through an active game.
The Baker County Cattlewomen prepare a lunch, made from commodities grown in Baker County. Teens from various Future Farmers of America Chapters volunteer to be group class chaperones and help the instructors conduct their classes.
Financial support is provided by local businesses, including Cattle Companies, Feed and Seed, Farm Credit Services, school parent-teacher organizations, Livestock Supply, and the Farm Bureau. Grants from the OSU 4-H Foundation and Bob’s Red Mill sustain the program from year to year.
An end-of-session survey asks the youth to rate their knowledge learned from each class session. Results have shown that this program has improved their understanding of agriculture and food production. And the teachers tell us the kids love it!