Virtual Ag-Citing Experience videos give youth a glimpse into where our food comes from
Virtual Ag-Citing Experience videos will show people—young and old, in classrooms or home schools or well past school—how farmers raise animals and crops and give them a sneak peek into where our food comes from.
The Ag-Citing Experience was developed in 1990 by Michigan State University Extension home economist and nutrition educator Sally Carpenter, 4-H program coordinator Lynn Fiegel and community volunteer Linda Huckendubler. The event was in collaboration with the St. Joseph County Grange Fair and the St. Joseph County Farm Bureau. The program was designed to educate third graders in the county on where their food comes from along with promoting physical activity during a tour at the county fair. Not only did students learn about farm animals, they also learned about crops grown in the area.
This fun and exciting—I guess that would be ag-citing—experience has evolved through the years but remains true to its purpose. In the past 30 years, thousands of students and hundreds of teachers, tour guides, presenters and tractor drivers have participated and assisted MSU Extension in making memories that people still share today. For example, in 2019 alone, over 700 students and 160 teachers and chaperones from 11 different schools participated. Teachers shared comments including: “Fantastic!” “Very fun for the students and educational,” “Students had fun and talked about it a lot. I also enjoyed it.”
Generations now have been greeted by volunteers and Extension staff to help make the whole farm to table experience something they are sure to remember. MSU Extension community nutrition instructors also offer schools additional follow-up classroom education to increase knowledge of what is needed for their students to be healthy.
In 2020, the St. Joseph County Grange Fair, along with so many other fairs in Michigan, had to shutter its doors for the year due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns. In order to give third graders the opportunity to experience a taste of what they would have seen and heard, MSU Extension staff and a host of generous volunteers produced a virtual version of the Ag-Citing tour. Though references are made to a few crops grown primarily in southwest Michigan, the majority of the content is widely applicable to youth and adults throughout Michigan and the Midwest who want to learn more about how farmers raise animals and crops and where their food comes from.
The videos are available free of charge in an Ag-Citing Experience YouTube playlist where closed captioning is also available. The main video, just under an hour long, will introduce you to all the major livestock species and types of crops grown for food and feed. Along with the main video, there are several short bonus features on topics including turning wool into clothing, taking a tour of a dairy farm, horses and horse care, and antique tractors. There is a virtual 4-H showcase where several young people show their animals like they would at a fair.
There are also two versions of a video describing how different animals are born or hatched—a shorter version and a longer one showing actual scenes of live births. After taking this virtual field trip, you will hopefully walk away with a sense of appreciation for all that farmers do to grow the crops and raise the animals that feed our country and our world.