(09/28/23) BATON ROUGE, La. — Fifth graders from East Baton Rouge Parish recently met at Burden Museum & Gardens to learn lessons about teamwork, making healthier choices and to have a little fun at the inaugural AgBash cosponsored by the LSU and Southern University agricultural centers.
The first-of-its-kind event was designed to expose inner-city students to hands-on lessons in healthy eating, safely using kitchen utensils, emergency preparedness and smoking and vaping cessation.
Dewanna Drewery, LSU AgCenter Southeast Region family and consumer sciences coordinator, said the event was meant to be a group effort to reach students outside of the classroom.
“Kids are now in the kitchen making their own snacks and meals, so we have different stations showing them how to make healthier choices,” she said. “A lot of the things we’re teaching here are about life skills, wellness and taking care of themselves once they become adults.”
One of the pitfalls to self-care children may encounter once they hit their early teens is the temptation to turn to tobacco products or vaping without considering the long-term health consequences. Angell Jordan, a Southern Ag Center agent, was on hand to educate them on the hazards.
“It is crucial to reach kids at an early age when they are just starting to get that peer pressure,” she said. “The earlier you can teach them about the dangers, the more lives we can save, because smoking and vaping not only affects your lungs, but it also affects your brain, heart and skin.”
According to organizers, each of the invited schools were able to select up to 20 fifth graders to attend the event, which had 10 education stations.
Gabriella Lorusso, an LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in East Baton Rouge Parish, said students didn’t have to be in 4-H to participate, but she hoped they would see the benefits of the program after they returned to their respective schools.
“Even though 4-H isn’t exclusively STEM oriented, I really like science, so today we are using noodle towers to teach about engineering and the design process,” she said. “The students are competing to build the largest tower using only pool noodles and duct tape. They have to work as a team and plan it out since it is a timed exercise.”
LSU AgCenter agent Bert Hammett, who oversees horticulture and natural resources for East Baton Rouge, said AgBash was an idea that had been brewing for a while. With so many extension programs working separately, he said it was a great way to bring everyone together to showcase all the programs at one event.
“Our main goal with this is for all of our programs to gain exposure,” he said. “Many of these schools are already involved in at least one of our programs; maybe they have nutrition classes at their school, for instance. But we want them to see everything else we have to offer.”
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers partnered with AgBash and donated a certificate of completion and a coupon for a free meal to every student who attended this year’s event.
LSU AgCenter nutrition agents Yolanda Pierce, left, and Carolina Negrete teach East Baton Rouge Parish fifth graders how to build a healthy meal with MyPlate, and how to make fruit smoothies during the inaugural AgBash held at Burden Museum and Gardens on Friday, Sept. 22. Photo by V. Todd Miller/LSU AgCenter
Southern Ag Center agent Angell Jordan explains the dangers of smoking and vaping to East Baton Rouge Parish fifth graders using healthy and unhealthy pig hearts to illustrate during the inaugural AgBash held at Burden Museum and Gardens on Friday, Sept. 22. Photo by V. Todd Miller/LSU AgCenter
LSU AgCenter nutrition agent Eva Davis quizzes East Baton Rouge Parish fifth graders on a variety of kitchen utensils and their uses during the inaugural AgBash held at Burden Museum and Gardens on Friday, Sept. 22. Photo by V. Todd Miller/LSU AgCenter