Hundreds of students attend Ag Adventures

Mary Ann Van Osdell, DuBois, Brandon, Dixon, Glen, Pinnell-Alison, Carol L., Collins, R. Keith, Burns, Dennis, Tarver, Tammy, Osborne, Karol B., Smith, Tara

News Release Distributed 02/24/11

DELHI, La. – Students from elementary schools in Richland, Franklin, Ouachita and Morehouse parishes visited a number of interactive exhibits and heard from LSU AgCenter agents about agricultural products in northeast Louisiana at Ag Adventures Feb. 22-23.

Sweet potatoes, soybeans, horses and a mini-farm were showcased for the 585 students. It was the fifth time the event has been held.

The goal of the event was to increase awareness of the nutritional and economic importance of Louisiana commodities, said Keith Collins, LSU AgCenter agent in Richland Parish.

In the mini farm, children saw cows, pigs, sheep, goats and alligators. “They liked petting the animals,” said Debra Hutchinson, a teacher at Oak Hill Elementary School in Bastrop. “It is great to expose them to agriculture.”

All meat starts out on a farm before it is sent to a grocery store, said LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Brandon DuBois. In addition, “pig pancreas glands are an important source of insulin hormone used to treat diabetics,” he added.

“Pigs wallow in mud to stay cool,” he said. “Pigs don’t sweat like we can.”

“When you are hot and sweaty, sweet potatoes are happy,” LSU AgCenter sweet potato specialist Tara Smith said, explaining that that crop likes hot weather.

“In China and Japan, they eat white-flesh sweet potatoes and purple-flesh sweet potatoes,” Smith said. “They grow the orange, but it’s primarily for animal feed. They eat the leaves. They are very important and very good for you.”

Carol Pinnell-Alison, LSU AgCenter agent in Franklin Parish, told about the nutritional value of sweet potatoes and showed products made with them, including pancakes, muffins, fries, chips, cookies, baby food and dog treats.

“Sweet potatoes are fat- and cholesterol-free, low in sodium and a good source of fiber,” she said. And topping a sweet potato with cinnamon won’t add calories like butter does.

“I like sweet potatoes baked in a pie,” said Connor Winstead, a student at Delhi Charter.

Shane Scriber, one of the 104 adults accompanying the students, said he didn’t realize the nutritional value of sweet potatoes. “I don’t eat them except at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I might do that now.”

A person would have to eat 23 cups of broccoli to equal the amount of vitamin A in a sweet potato said Pinnell-Alison.

Dennis Burns, LSU AgCenter agent in Tensas Parish, explained how sweet potatoes are harvested and what equipment is used.

“Soybeans are harvested with a combine and are transported by truck or barges,” said AgCenter agent Glenn Dixon. “A lot of people work in this industry. Not all soybeans stay in the United States. When other parts of the world have shortages, it’s good for U.S. farmers.”

Soybean byproducts include lubricants, paint, plastics, cleaners, vegetable oil, fuel, crayons and candles. Dixon asked the children to look on product labels to find soybean ingredients.

“Since it is Black History Month, George Washington Carver made a plethora of products from soybeans,” Dixon told the students.

Allison and Tim Anderson, horse volunteers in Madison Parish, talked about horses and their breeds, colors and life spans.

“Owning a horse is a lot of responsibility,” said LSU AgCenter agent Karol Osborne. “You can learn about them through the 4-H program. You don’t have to have a horse. You can do a speech about horses; you can do a demonstration or a quiz bowl – a contest kind of like a game show.”

Tammy Tarver, LSU AgCenter nutrition educator, presented a puppet show featuring “Bac,” short for Bacteria, reminding children to wash their hands before they prepare food, after they use the bathroom and after they play outside or with pets. She used bubbles that glowed in black light to demonstrate where germs from a sneeze or cough can land.

“Germs are everywhere, on things we touch and in the air,” she said. A potion on her hands that glowed in the black light showed how germs transferred when she shook hands with others.

“If you drop a book or a pencil and someone returns it, you’re sharing kindness, but also germs,” she said.

Tarver told them to scrub with soap for 20 seconds every time they wash their hands.

Mary Ann Van Osdell
2/25/2011 2:46:31 AM
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