Posted Date: 09/30/2015
Students at Okay Elementary School were treated to a myriad of health and agricultural educational information on Wednesday, thanks to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Office.
The program, dubbed “Farm to You,” is a 40-foot by 40-foot enclosed walk through exhibit that features 10 stations of interactive experiences. The exhibit was brought to Okay Elementary by Cody Yount, an Okay High School graduate, and the exhibit was run by the school’s national award-winning Family, Career and Community Leaders of America team.
Yount said the exhibit was brought into existence to combat some of the struggles facing Oklahoma youth today.
“We have increased childhood obesity, a high prevalence of tooth decay and very low consumption of fruit and vegetables,” Yount said. “We’re teaching them about agriculture, and we’re also teaching them about the nutrients in the foods they’re eating, and where those come from. We also want to teach them about the relationship between agriculture and a healthy lifestyle.”
The Rousselot Auditorium was buzzing with activity as the children went from booth to booth. One exhibit, called “Farmer Pete’s Chicken Coop,” taught the kids about raising chickens and the important role protein plays in their diets. Six different booths brought the children up to speed on the digestive system, and how their bodies break down what they eat.
Jacob Jimison, a sixth-grader at Okay, said he liked the program.
“They’re teaching us about what we need to put on our plates,” Jimison said. “
And how it’s good for us. I think I’ll change some of my eating habits now. Instead of putting a brownie where my dairy is supposed to be, I’ll put a glass of milk there.”
Jimison also begrudgingly admitted he’d eat a few more vegetables.
Yount said anyone can get the program brought to their school, all they have to do is get in touch with their local Extension Office.
“We’re really high in statistics that aren’t positive,” he said. “But these are fixable things. We can address these things. I’ve been doing this since March, and I can see a difference in kids when they leave the exhibit. The kids are excited, and they’re going around spouting this new knowledge they have. For the most part, we’ve condensed this complex material into granules that they can take home to their parents.”
According to a media release from the Farm to You exhibit, approximately 20,000 elementary school-aged children will participate in the exhibit each year. The release also states the students’ eating habits will improve, and they will have a greater intent for increasing fat-free and low-fat milk, eating more fruits and vegetables, and have more of a desire to exercise.
Mike Lasater, the principal at Okay Elementary, said he’d like to have the Farm to You exhibit at the school every two years.
“This teaches our students so many great things,” Lasater said. “It’s a wonderfully informative program, and they’ve utilized our FCCLA students, who have done a fantastic job of getting the information to the kids. We’re glad they’re here, and we’re excited to see the kids this pumped up about learning.”