Members of the Osage County Cattlewomen teamed up with Osage County Extension 4-H Educator Jessica Jantzen to help children understand the importance of agriculture and its role in practically every facet of our lives.
“We developed several fun exercises,” said Jantzen. “Indian Camp students got to make edible dirt. Elementary students were treated to smiley tacos.”
Overall, 22 classes totaling 442 students participated in the two-week event. The edible dirt project was a whimsical education session that gave its youthful participants an opportunity to understand how dirt and other elements, such as water and sand, contribute to our food supply. They also learned how important cattle are to the soil and the nutrients they contribute.
Using a variety of colorful foods, elementary students created funny faces on a taco base. The program was geared to the “MyPlate” concept which helps youth understand the importance of selecting five food groups for each meal. As the children built their faces, they had to identify the ingredients which included protein, veggies, fruits, grains and dairy.
Jantzen is not only a 4-H educator; she is responsible for Youth Development in Osage County. Jantzen received her undergraduate from NW Oklahoma State University and most recently her master’s degree from OSU. She is working closely with the Osage County Cattlewomen in promoting agricultural and beef education.
The purpose of the Ag in the Classroom series is to make healthy food more fun for children. Providing healthy ingredients and letting kids help with the preparation (based on their age and skills) encourages them to try foods they have previously avoided.
The website www.ChooseMyPlate.gov/children has helpful tips along with some yummy recipes for children and adults to try, such as smoothie creations, caterpillar kabobs, fruity peanut butterfly, and bugs on a log.
In addition to eating smart, Jantzen encourages the children to play hard.
“Children need to keep moving with at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Every little bit counts – whether it’s skateboarding, tossing a ball or playing tag,” she said.
Jantzen may be reached at the OSU Extension Office, 628 Kihekah, 2nd Floor, or by phone at 918-287-4170.
Crystal (Clement) Themm is President of the Osage County Cattlewomen. Assisting Jantzen with Ag in the Classroom were Cattlewomen Georgiana Cheves, Barbara Strahm, Margie Moore, Debbie Reed, Kathryn Chambers and her three daughters.