- Author: Laura J. Van der Staay
Over 3400 third-graders and 600 teachers and chaperones from nine Fresno County school districts attended Fresno Farm and Nutrition Day at the Big Fresno Fairgrounds on March 21, 2014. Over 50 stations with educational handouts, experiential workshops, presentations and displays helped increase participant awareness of nutrition and agriculture. Fresno County Farm Bureau organized the event with the help of several sponsors, volunteers and presenter groups. Three UC Agriculture and Natural Recourses units provided presentations, demonstrations and workshops.
Fresno County UC Cooperative Extension provided presentations and demonstrations on healthy habits. Most of the students are from urban areas of Fresno, and have limited opportunities to interact with the agricultural community. Fresno's community 4-H clubs brought farm animals to interact with the students. Fresno County UC Cooperative Extension also displayed Southeast Asian vegetables and discussed Southeast Asian culture with the students.
KARE provided short presentations on what it takes to be a healthy plant and what it takes to be a healthy person, followed immediately by workshops where the students planted leaf lettuce transplants to take home and enjoy. The workshops were made possible with donations and volunteers. Valley Soil & Forest Products donated soil, The Plant People donated pots, and Greenheart Farms donated lettuce transplants. Fourteen volunteers helped ensure that all of the participants were able to pot up and take home leaf lettuce plants.
The UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center's Cardboard Cow visited event as well. She came with Jennifer Crook, Adrianna "Auggie" Villarreal, and Grant Jones-Wiebe. The children learned how a veterinarian uses tests and tools to diagnose a cow's welfare. They poked "inside" Cardboard Cow to touch and see her spine (styrofoam backbone), muscle structure (pink packing "peanuts"), four-compartment stomach (small rubber-, volley-, soccer-, and basket- -balls), and even a fetus (a plush toy calf). Each child was able to palpate for the calf, and to hear their own heartbeat with a stethoscope. There were veterinary tools, models of animals and real cow bones to explore.
More information on the 9th annual Fresno Farm and Nutrition Day can be found at the following: Fresno Bee article, Fresno Bee video, Ag News Network video, UC CalFresh Fresno County blog, PBS video, AgNet West video and article, http://www.vmtrc.ucdavis.edu/blog/?cat=7, and the UCDVMTRC Facebook page.