Rachel Purdy- Wyoming Beef Ambassador
Over the last week, I have been presenting a lesson to students in local schools about beef. There is so much great news to share about the beef community-it makes it challenging to find just one focus area for a lesson. I taught a lesson to two classes of third graders, one second grade class, and one after school program.
I started out my lesson by discussing the role beef plays in our local communities. As students entered the classroom, I gave four of them hats to wear that represented the various jobs connected to the beef community. The children really enjoyed this portion of the lesson and got a kick out of all of the hats, especially the chef hat. At the beginning of all of my lessons, the students could identify one or two ways the beef industry affects the community. After the lesson, the students understood how crucial beef is to the economies of rural Wyoming communities. Beef production is more than just a rancher producing beef; beef production impacts the local vet, gas station, restaurants, and many other businesses. I continued the lesson by talking about what cattle eat, why cattle can consume grass and forages and humans cannot, and finally what nutrients we can gain from consuming beef. My goal was to make the lesson as hands on as possible for the students. The students were able to work in teams and work together to play a matching game to determine what cattle eat. One student came up to me before this activity and told me that he already knew what cattle eat so he did not think he should participate. I had him participate anyway, and he even learned something new! I think it shocked many of the students how many different things cattle can eat (even salt!). After all of that talk about beef, I gave all of the students a beef jerky snack and a beef recipe from BeefItsWhatsForDinner.Com to take home.
A couple of things really surprised me about my experience in the classroom. First, even our rural children are becoming more out of touch and removed from agriculture. This motivates me to continue promoting the beef community to consumers of all ages in a variety of locations. I was also surprised how receptive the students were of the positive beef message I presented. The students really enjoyed their snack at the end of the lesson.