PHOTO: Katie Pratt, UK Agricultural Communications
When an opportunity to share agriculture with 1,400 young people from several counties arose, the Warren County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service took to the ball diamond.
The extension agents hosted the agriculture awareness day at a game of the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the local Single-A baseball team. The game was played earlier in the day to accommodate the schedules of several school districts in and around Warren County. It was an opportunity for the extension office to reach many nontraditional extension clients in a nontraditional way.
Agriculture always has been and still is an important industry in Warren County. But, the county has faced rapid urbanization as Bowling Green has grown. Educating the county’s residents about the importance of agriculture was one of the topics the Warren County Extension Council asked the agents to address.
“Warren County has a population of over 100,000 people and many of our residents are several generations removed from the farm,” said Janet Turley, the county’s 4-H youth development extension agent.
At the ballpark, Turley and fellow extension agents Joanna Coles and Kristin Hildabrand offered agriculture education through public service announcements between innings and through an agriculture-focused trivia game on the stadium’s concourse. Turley recruited 4-H’ers and club leaders to bring their animal projects to the park, so students could see and pet the animals. It also gave the 4-H’ers an opportunity to share their enthusiasm for their animals with their peers from across the region.
Susannah Bergamini was one of the 4-H’ers in attendance. She brought her Lionhead rabbit named Dippin Dots.
“In 4-H we’ve learned about rabbits’ body parts and what rabbits eat,” she said. “I wanted to come to the ballpark today to show everybody my rabbit.”
This was one of four recent outreach projects where Warren County Cooperative Extension agents partnered with local organizations to reach the area’s young people and adults. The Warren County Agriculture Foundation sponsored many of the events including an Agriculture Awareness Breakfast. A partnership with Warren County Farm Bureau is reaching every second-grader in the county with an agriculture literacy program in which volunteers read an ag-related book. The agents also partnered with Agriculture in the Classroom to present hands-on agriculture lessons at a local elementary where students are several generations removed from the farm.
“We really need to teach students and their parents that farmers grow their food and that farmers and agriculture are very important,” Turley said. “It’s not just our food. It’s our clothing and other everyday items that are derived from agriculture products.”
The UK Cooperative Extension Service is part of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Jointly with its land-grant partner, Kentucky State University, Cooperative Extension takes the university to the people in their local communities, addressing issues of importance of all Kentuckians.
Janet Turley, 270-842-1681