February 27, 2009

Some University of Kentucky College of Agriculture students are trying to show their peers and all Kentuckians how agriculture impacts everyone's daily life. A T-shirt campaign titled "Why Ag?" is under way on the Lexington campus and organizers hope the shirts will spark conversation.

"The College of Ag Student Council launched the campaign to promote agricultural literacy," said Savannah Craddock, council president. "Our vision is to see our peers and youths become more actively engaged in agriculture and understand the impact that it has on their lives. We hope this can be done by wearing ‘Why Ag?' T-shirts. By increasing awareness, we hope to spark interest in learning more about agriculture."

Craddock said each shirt will have 20 short facts about agriculture, helping create opportunities for those engaged directly in agriculture to share their knowledge base with their peers.

The T-shirt coincides with National Ag Day on March 20, however; most universities are on spring break that day. So, Craddock and other College of Agriculture Student Council officers set March 24 as the date for students to wear their "Why Ag?" shirts.

National Ag Day is an event designed to increase knowledge of agriculture and nutrition in order for individuals to make informed personal choices about diet and health. Informed citizens are able to participate in establishing policies that will support a competitive agricultural industry in the United States and abroad.

Employment opportunities in agriculture are abundant and include farm production, agribusiness management and marketing, agricultural research and engineering, food science, processing and retail, banking, education, landscape architecture, urban planning, energy and many other fields.

"We agree that agriculture is too important a topic to be taught only to a small percentage of students considering careers in agriculture," Craddock said. "We believe that agricultural literacy includes an understanding of agricultural history and agriculture's current economic, social and environmental significance to all Kentuckians."

The proceeds from the "Why Ag?" T-shirt sales will benefit the Kentucky Academy located in Adjeikrom in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The academy currently has 80 students enrolled. The facility does not have water or electricity and has a limited number of school supplies for the students attending the school.  

UK Nutrition and Food Sciences Professor Kwaku Addo, a native of Ghana, and his wife Esther Addo, a nurse at UK's Chandler Hospital, began a project to build the academy as a kindergarten school in Esther's home village of Adjeikrom in 2001. Each year, Kwaku Addo takes a group of UK students, faculty and staff, as well as students from Prairie View A&M University in Texas, on a study tour of Ghana, and they always visit the Kentucky Academy. This past year, tour participants helped paint the school.

The T-shirts are free with a $10 donation to the Kentucky Academy. Interested persons may sign up to receive a shirt in room N6 at the Agricultural Science Center North on UK's Lexington campus or visit the Ag Student Council Website and purchase your shirt online using a credit or debit card. The last day to order a shirt is March 9. Those making donations may choose to have their shirts mailed to them or they may e-mail a request to pick up the shirt to Savannah Craddock at savy@uky.edu.

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