January 17th, 2019

City kids get food for thought on the farm

By Lethbridge Herald on July 28, 2018.

Herald photo by Ian Martens Meagan Selman helps a group of youngsters as the get the chance to feed a line of gentle bulls Friday at Carlson Cattle Company near Magrath as part of the University of LethbridgeÕs Destination Exploration Farm Camp. @IMartensHerald

U of L program connects youth to the world around them
Nick Kuhl and Ian Martens
Lethbridge Herald – Magrath
This wasn’t “City Slickers,” but some city kids did get their hands dirty on a cattle ranch near Lethbridge on Friday. Destination Exploration campers from the University of Lethbridge wrapped up their Farm Camp week with a visit to the Carlson Cattle Company ranch west of Magrath.
Throughout the week, the kid campers were at the U of L campus doing hands-on experiments and activities to discover how science and technology help keep fresh food on the table.
Then, on Friday, they went to the ranch where they fed bulls, climbed hay bales and picked herbs with members of a neighbouring Hutterite colony.
“I see a real disconnect in young people today in understanding where food comes from and, even bigger for me, is a lack of outside activity,” said Lorraine Beaudin, an Associate Professor in the U of L’s Faculty of Education, who also runs Carlson Cattle Company with her husband Lon Carlson.
“Kids aren’t allowed to explore as much as in the past. So I think for us, it was allowing them to see that, see where animals come from, see how things are grown; it’s pretty important for young people, especially in southern Alberta. It’s a pretty agriculture-rich environment. I really believe that kids don’t touch the earth enough. We have to really cognizant of how much time kids are spending attached to devices.”
“We came to this because it’s a farm and we learned about everything, like tractors,” said Chase Debnam, 8, adding playing on the hay bales and feeding the bulls were his favourite parts.
“We’re going to do some crafts, make some things. It was really fun.”
“Definitely playing tag on the hay bales,” said Marit Larson, 10, of her favourite moment.
Led by veteran instructors Sam Macphee and Humaira Enayetullha, the camp was intended to inspire youth to think about where their food comes from while learning something new.
“This will be the first time that some of these children are seeing cattle up close on a working ranch,” said Laura Keffer-Wilkes, Program Coordinator.
“We want them to have fun and to also understand that food production is complex and requires technology, science and engineering to keep everyone well fed.”
Activities also included campers growing their own bean, building a tractor, using a virtual sandbox to learn about topographic maps, and visits to the Campus Roots Community Garden and Rene Barendregt’s geology lab.
Destination Exploration is a youth science outreach organization, offering educational experiences in science, technology, engineering and math programs.
The programs have been growing steadily since they originated in 2002, and now reach more than 4,000 youth each year in Lethbridge and its surrounding areas.
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