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AgFest: Going to the farm without leaving Peterson

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Ron Meyer, Colorado State Extension area agronomist, shows unusual planting media to a group of school aged children at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., March 27, 2017, during the CSU Extension’s AgFest. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Ron Meyer, Colorado State Extension area agronomist, shows unusual planting media to a group of school aged children at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., March 27, 2017, during the CSU Extension’s AgFest. About 85 youth from Peterson AFB and the United States Air Force Academy participated in the first military AgFest since the program began seven years ago. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Gisele Jefferson, Colorado State University Extension consumer and family agent, uses larger than life models to show a group of children how bees produce honey at one of 10 stations during the CSU Extension’s AgFest event at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., March 27, 2017. The event employed a hands-on approach to use science, technology, engineering and math to help students learn about the importance of agricultural food production(U.S. Air Force Photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Gisele Jefferson, Colorado State University Extension consumer and family agent, uses larger than life models to show a group of children how bees produce honey at one of 10 stations during the CSU Extension’s AgFest event at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., March 27, 2017. The event employed a hands-on approach to use science, technology, engineering and math to help students learn about the importance of agricultural food production(U.S. Air Force Photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – A group of school aged children work on a project for the Quilts of Valor program. Gisele Jefferson, Colorado State Extension consumer and family agent, taught groups of children how to prepare and sew the quilts as part of the CSU Extension’s AgFest at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., March 28, 2017. The quilts will be completed by volunteers for display at the Colorado State Fair and presentation to veterans. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – A group of school aged children work on a project for the Quilts of Valor program. Gisele Jefferson, Colorado State Extension consumer and family agent, taught groups of children how to prepare and sew the quilts as part of the CSU Extension’s AgFest at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., March 28, 2017. The quilts will be completed by volunteers for display at the Colorado State Fair and presentation to veterans. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo -- When a person sits down to eat a meal, science isn’t usually the topic at the forefront of their thoughts. Colorado State University Extension professionals are reaching out to fifth grade students in an effort to change that.

AgFest was held March 27 at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. The event employed a hands-on approach to use science, technology, engineering and math to help students learn about the importance of agricultural food production.

"Our overall goal is to engage military-connected youth, as they move around the world, with 4-H programs that build life skills, teach resiliency and make them feel a part of the global 4-H community," said Vanessa Tranel, CSU extension agent, 4-H Youth Development for the military.

About 85 youth from Peterson AFB and the United States Air Force Academy gathered to make butter, talk steaks, use navigation skills, and see what goes into growing the crops used for the food they eat each day. CSU Extension educators came from 12 Colorado counties and the campus in Fort Collins to set up and teach at the event, Tranel said.

This event was the first military AgFest held in the seven-year history of the Extension AGFest program, said Vicki Rygiel, school age program coordinator at the Peterson Youth Center.

Youth learned about where their food comes from, how it is regulated and produced to provide the highest nutritional value,” Rygiel said. “They learned the importance of animals and insects in agriculture, how the ingredients in their foods are created, grown and infused into other products from Colorado agricultural producers.”

The young people made their way through 10 different stations: Dairy Production, Global Positioning Systems, Embryology, Water Quality & Erosion, Microbes & Bacteria, Plant Science & Biotechnology, Pollination & Honey Bees, Power & Simple Tools, Range Land Ecology, and What’s Your Beef.

The festival was designed to address concerns about children losing sight of the important role of agricultural food production and how STEM components are found in daily agricultural processes, according to AgFest planning committee documents.

The kids enjoy the opportunity to do fun, hands-on activities and learn about new things,” Tranel said. “In the case of AgFest, we use STEM concepts to teach youth where their food comes from and the importance of agriculture and food production in Colorado.”

Rygiel said the educators were excellent representatives of their subjects and did a good job incorporating STEM into the mix.

“They provided a fascinating learning experience,” she said.

The following day, two groups of the youth teamed with Extension educators to work on Quilts of Valor. The groups spent time learning how to make the quilts, including using sewing machines. They will be completed by volunteers and then displayed at the Colorado State Fair before being presented to veterans, according to documentation from the Extension.

"Programs like AgFest are important because through the Colorado State University-Military Partnership, we can deliver research-based 4-H STEM education to military youth throughout Colorado Springs,” said Tranel.

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