How many times have you heard of this scenario? A fourth grader comes home from school saying his teacher told him milk has bad things in it, and he refuses to drink any milk. Or, a student suddenly stops eating meat because farmers abuse animals. These are the kind of things that cause farm families to wring their hands in frustration. Anti-agriculture forces have done a very effective job of putting their propaganda into classrooms and, in many cases, brainwashing unsuspecting and uninformed teachers.
Too often, farm families feel powerless to effect change. Yet, in reality, the solution is very simple and extremely effective. It only takes a little time, a little creativity, and a whole lot of volunteers. I recently saw firsthand how just a handful of people have put together an extremely effective program that has transformed their local schools from sources of agricultural misinformation to farmer-friendly advocates for agriculture.
On a sunny and blustery day last week, over 500 students at the Pine Tree Elementary School in Avon, IN, got a firsthand look at the Indiana livestock industry. The students rotated through 10 stations in the gymnasium and the playground in back of the school where a group of Hendricks County farmers conducted mini-seminars about all aspects of livestock production.
While there were plenty of animals on display, there were also stations that focused on hay and feed production, animal health and welfare, and even a spinning wheel turning fleece into yarn. There was no elaborate curriculum, just local producers doing what they do best: talking about their farms and their animals.
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