By Amanda Bergstrom, Ag Ambassador
Working as an Ag Ambassador for the Ag Sack Lunch Program has been an amazing experience and the kids’ enthusiasm in the program has been wonderful. I was approached by Karen Brokaw at the beginning of the semester about being one of the Ag Ambassadors for the NPPA and Soybean Board funded program and I jumped right on board! I helped recruit Amanda Schutz and Emilee Dorn, also Agricultural Journalism majors at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln and the three of us made up the Ag Ambassador team for the fall semester.
We meet most of the groups on the lawn of the state capitol after they’ve toured the building and the program provides each student with a sack lunch full of Nebraska grown or produced products to enjoy during our presentation. Our presentation focuses on the importance of agriculture in Nebraska and how it affects everyone, even if they don’t live on a farm or work in an agriculture-related field. As we present we ask the students a series of questions about agriculture, such as: what are the four main livestock in Nebraska or what are Nebraska’s three main crops? The groups have varied on their initial knowledge of Nebraska’s agricultural but every group has told us they left having learned something new. I have even been approached by teachers and parents who said they didn’t know about something I’d mentioned or they had additional questions regarding a topic I covered.
At the end of the presentations we tell the students to check in the bottom of their sack lunches to find the deck of cards the program provides. It’s our “Crazy Soybean” card game, a fun spin on crazy eights that has the four main livestock, beef, dairy, poultry and pork as the four card suits and the crazy eight cards as soybeans. The deck is a lot of fun, the other ambassadors and I have flipped through it several times just to read the agricultural facts on each card, often learning new things ourselves. The students are always very excited to learn the surprise is a card deck and want to pull them out immediately. We got to enjoy watching one school actually playing the game while they waited for their next tour to start, they was a lot of laughing and several discussions about different cards.
I always end my presentations with any questions from the students or adults and then some fun stories regarding my older brother and his attempts at riding a bucket calf and a pig. I enjoy being able to talk about my experiences growing up working with agriculture, to students who have never or may never have the opportunity. One of the teachers from Omaha told us that many of her students had either never left the city of Omaha or never been farther west than Lincoln and the opportunity to learn from us was wonderful. I’m looking forward to starting with our next round of presentations in February, which will continue through May, totaling about 3500 students.