Pork Mentor: Hands-on learning ‘fulfills educational objectives’

By Lacey Schardt, 2010 Pork Mentor

On Thursday, February 3, I shadowed Kyla and Mallory on an Animal Agriculture Promotion school visit.  This program is fairly new, and it is in response to the recent attacks on and misconceptions about animal agriculture.  On the day that I joined them we went to the Ashland-Greenwood high school.  Kyla and Mallory had plans to talk with three classes which encompassed students ranging from freshman to sophomores in high school.

On the trip to Ashland, we discussed the plans for the day, along with new ideas and programs that are being incorporated into the State FFA convention.  I was very pleased to be involved in this conversation, and it empowered me to know that all of the agricultural commodities are joining together to protect agriculture as a whole.  I say this because I remember Kyla stating that the Soybean Board along with the Corn Board have an active role with helping to create the animal agriculture awareness program along with the agriculture academy being incorporated into the State FFA convention.

The Ag teacher at the Ashland-Greenwood school had made a request for the presentation to be presented in her three classes.  To two of the three classes we presented to them about the current issues facing the animal agriculture industry along with specific information about how these misconceptions have arisen.  There was an emphasis placed on the definitions of pet and livestock.  A pet being an animal that provides companionship, while livestock provide food and products to enhance the lifestyle of humans.  With these definitions in place, we then discussed with the classes how there are different needs of caring for the animals that fall under the different categories.  After we discussed these definitions, we focused on how most of the United States population is at least three to four generations away from having family ties to a farming operation.  With this we then discussed how much of the population thinks of farmers with the image of the famous painting, American Gothic¸ in their minds.  With this image, it portrays farmers as grumpy old tired people who do not enjoy their job, while the truth is the exact opposite.

The class that did not get the presentation about animal agriculture, we presented to them about the job opportunities available in the pork industry.  I was very pleased when Kyla asked me to share my story of being a college student, my goals, along with where I came from.  As I shared my story with the students, I greatly enjoyed watching their reactions to how excited I was when I was explaining that our pork that we raise, does feed the world.  I will always remember this.

I really enjoyed this shadowing opportunity.  With my deep passion for agriculture I have a new drive to get involved with helping promote agriculture.  I then chose this shadow to learn about different ways of communicating with different ages, and different sizes of groups.  I went into this shadow with three learning objective:  to experience a new way to communicate with people of different ages, to be exposed to more of the promotional side of the agriculture and pork industries, along with just a hope to learn more about pork.  Through this shadowing experience all of my objectives were fulfilled, and I know that I came out of this experience more passionate about the agriculture industry.

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