Friday, October 21, 2011

Old McDonald Had A Farm.........................and then he went to the CITY

Bright and early Thursday morning I made the grand trek to San Francisco to be a part of a memorable experience.  Sharing my love of agriculture with young people in the San Francisco School District, over 10,000 of them!   And so the story begins~~~~

I made my way to
251 Sixth Street
. Being a veteran of shopping in downtown SF I knew exactly where
Sixth Street
was so I was excited I did not have to wiggle my way trying to figure out where my assigned school would be. For I have visited Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdales numerous times and goodness my school was only a few blocks away – how convenient for after wards. Or was it?  As I made my way I searched for 251 sixth and could not find it, I decided to pay $ 10 to park and walk and explore, it couldn’t be too far.  Ummmmm , first lesson of the day!!! There is a difference between
251 Sixth ST
251 Sixth AVE
- Nooooooooooooo – did I write down the wrong address? How could I? I was early, prepared, ready to conquer my class with all things agriculture. Yep after a call to my partner Chris I found out I was at the wrong SIXTH and the one I needed to be at in less than 5 minutes was completely on the other side of SF.  Oh my- jumped in my car and headed west and within a short time of wiggling through the SF streets I found my school.  A sweet small school of children from K to 5th grade.  Whew, only about a half hour late but thanks to my partner for the day he started without me and was already rockin it. 

Ok, now I was ready to tell my story and I did. I proceeded to talk about my family cattle ranch and why I was there, to talk about farms, ranches, answer questions and focus on my presentation of the day – Beef Byproducts!  Children were amazed when they learned that chewing gum, baseball gloves, fine china and medicines were all a part of the beloved cow.  Ewwwwww, Yuk and really? Were some of the comments I heard but then described the by product as an ingredient of the big picture comparing to a cookie.  Mixing flour, sugar, eggs, butter etc to create the perfect cookie it is no different than cow horn being finally ground up and added to other ingredients to make the fine china your mom uses at Christmas dinner. They seemed to make the connection!  Success! 

I did find it interesting that one teacher told me she promoted organic, vegan practices with her class and said that many of the young people’s families ate organic, hormone free, or vegan options. My response, really why is that? Because that is the best.  My response was that this was one choice of so many, all of which are produced by American Farmers and Ranchers. She then told me that the by product lesson my partner and I gave that day would probably have some pushback from parents and she made a grimace.  Really? I said, well here is my card and I encourage any parent that wishes to call or email me – I would be happy to discuss by products further.  I was always asked if my family operation was grass fed – she certainly hoped so! I told her well for the first part of their life the calves are on grass until we sell them and then they do go into a feedlot before they are harvested.  She looked at me as if I was an alien.  Concluding that once again the beauty of our farmers and ranchers and of consumers is that we have options!   Options on methods to produce, options on what to buy and consume.  Bottom line it is important to be educated on ALL options so that you then can make responsible choices for your family.

The children were eager to learn about the farm and where food came from and how it was produced, I was happy to share it all with them.  I wanted to scoop them all up take them home with me and share the life I led with each and every one of them so they too could experience the life I love.

Our children in public schools should have the opportunity to learn about all aspects of farms not just grass fed farms or just organic farms, only hormone free farms or only conventional farms. They should be able to have it all. I do not believe that they should be influenced by one teacher because she has chosen a vegan way of life.  I believe it is our job as farmers and ranchers to tell the story, to share the options, to be a resource, to share the facts, to educate, to build the bridge.   I encourage everyone to check their schools, what are your kids learning? Is all information being given?  Lets be sure!  Farmers are Farmers – I don’t believe we need to have our kids starting to pit one type against another. 

After visiting my school I realized that children love famers!  They did not care if we were organic or conventional, whether we were grass fed or hormone free, they accepted me for who I was and that is what is most important.  We can learn a lot from kids!! 

Special thanks to California Foundation for Ag in the Classroom on celebrating 25 years of bringing agriculture education to our young people and thank you for letting me be a part of a very special day and sharing my ag story.  I know I can speak for the over 250 volunteers that merged into San Francisco Schools , the experience for us was just as rewarding as those of the children.  Lets keep doing good things for California Agriculture~ Why? Because it is our obligation to fellow farmers and ranchers , that’s why !!

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