Ag. Day brings St. Paul to East Bank

Students used animals to teach everyone about food production.

Animal science junior Emily Boser walks Comet, a llama, down Church Street Tuesday, April 16, 2013, afternoon as a part of Agriculture Awareness Day.

Animal science junior Emily Boser walks Comet, a llama, down Church Street Tuesday, April 16, 2013, afternoon as a part of Agriculture Awareness Day.

Hailey Colwell

Growing up on a dairy farm in southeast Minnesota, agricultural education sophomore Lauren Servick would get up at 4 a.m. to milk cows.

But some University of Minnesota students don’t even know where their food comes from.

“Being in the heart of the cities, there aren’t a lot of students here who grew up on farms and understand agriculture,” agricultural education junior Kelsey Gunderson said. “A lot of people think that their food still comes from the grocery store.”

The University Agricultural Education Club’s fourth Annual Agriculture Awareness Day, held Tuesday on the East Bank, was an effort to get students in touch with their foods’ origins and teach them about what students do on the St. Paul campus.

“There are a few students on Minneapolis who don’t even know that we have a St. Paul campus,” said agricultural education freshman Sarah Marketon, who taught students about pork production at the event. “That’s why we’re over here today.”

More than 100 students flooded the cobblestones of Church Street on Tuesday afternoon to pet llamas, pigs, sheep, cows and goats while learning about the roles the animals play in the agriculture industry.

They browsed tables staffed by representatives of different parts of the business, learning about biofuel production and the health benefits of dairy. They tested their farm knowledge with trivia games and munched on protein-filled bars while being filled in on soybean farming.

“They really brought the part of campus that we never really get to see as a [College of Science and Engineering] student over here,” chemical engineering freshman Rena Wang said.

Though she doesn’t normally think about where her food comes from, she said seeing the animals and talking to food producers made her more interested in the process.

Materials science junior Rochelle Zordich said every year after Agriculture Awareness Day, she becomes a bit more driven to look into different food options and learn how it’s produced.

“I think that [interest] lasts longer every year,” she said.

Computer engineering junior Taylor Trimble said he’s come to the event for the past three years, and he now calls it “touch-a-pig day.”

Though he considers himself a city kid and spends most of his time on the Minneapolis campus, Trimble said he worked on his grandparents’ farm for a few summers growing up.

“A lot of people’s opinion of farming is that it’s older [and] it’s not really high-tech,” he said. “There’s definitely a science to it.”

Trimble said he appreciates the event because it gives students a more realistic look at what farming is.

“It’s not just Mom and Pop living on the land and having a few cows and chickens,” he said. “It’s an industry.”