Ardmore, Okla., schoolchildren watch videos about agricultural production at the Grown For You educational trailer.
A griculture education has never been more important. And now, thanks to a trio of Oklahoma institutions, it has never been more mobile either.
The Noble Research Institute's youth education and outreach program - Noble Academy - Oklahoma Farm Bureau, and the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation launched a new mobile education trailer called the Grown For You mobile classroom to provide students a fun, fast and factual look at Oklahoma agriculture.
"This trailer provides an interactive look into agriculture and its importance to society and our state's economy," said Frank Hardin, Noble Research Institute's educational outreach manager. "Our goal is to make the connection between agriculture and our food supply. It is important that our audiences understand that the food on our tables is grown for us by families like ours all over Oklahoma and the country." The mobile classroom also explains the role of research in agriculture and demonstrates the enormous variety of career opportunities in this sector.
The idea for the Grown For You trailer started rolling more than a year ago when representatives from the three organizations began brainstorming about interactive ways to engage students across the entire state, servicing multiple schools and communities. The group landed on a single conclusion: the solution clearly needed wheels. The team sought inspiration and insight from several other states who were a little farther down the road on similar projects. They reviewed other mobile exhibits and trailers before sitting down at the design table.
"The key to the trailer's design is being able to engage multiple groups at once," said Holly Carroll, vice president of field services and leadership development for Oklahoma Farm Bureau. "It is great for county fairs, trade shows and school groups. Instead of just a small group going through a trailer, we use all sides of the trailer to communicate our messages and connect observers to interactive, educational games. It allows for more viewing and more learning opportunities."
Instead of static displays, the Grown For You trailer uses videos, presentations and interactive games presented on four 47-inch outdoor TVs. Short videos focus on various commodity crops grown in Oklahoma, while demonstrations bring a hands-on element to audiences.
A packed picnic basket teaches students about the obvious - and not so obvious - agricultural origins of items typically found on a picnic, from the beef in a hamburger to the ink on a bag of chips.
My American Farm educational video games, provided by the American Farm Bureau and projected on the trailer's TVs, offer audiences a chance to understand and learn more about agriculture.
"Today's youth are the future - not just for agriculture, but they are future consumers, legislators and professionals," Hardin said. "Educating the youth at an early age about the importance of agriculture is vital to future sustainability."
Carroll echoed Hardin's sentiment. "Every day that we miss an opportunity to promote and educate, we miss out on a future supporter of agriculture," she said.
The Grown For You mobile classroom officially debuted at the Oklahoma Farm Bureau convention on Nov. 15 in Norman, Okla., and will be ready to visit schools and communities after Jan. 1, 2014. The mobile classroom will be scheduled and operated through Oklahoma Farm Bureau, with updates and support provided by the Noble Research Institute. Anyone interested in having the trailer visit their area can call now to get on the schedule. For more information or to schedule a visit, contact Carroll at 405.523.2307.