Lincoln, Neb. —One early morning in September, the fourth graders seemed more excited than usual to begin their day. As they fill the school buses with anticipation, they are prepared for a break from routine and time spent outside of the classroom. It’s field trip day, but the lessons they learn will feel more like adventures as they travel into the world of agriculture. For these students, knowledge of the agricultural industry will always be rooted in their firsthand experiences with the people, livestock and stories from Nebraska Extension 4-H Ag Literacy Festivals.
In 2023, Nebraska Extension 4-H hosted 19 Ag Literacy Festivals, educating more than 6,070 second through fifth-graders. Across five months and 153 schools, these events cultivated a deeper understanding and connection to the state’s vital agricultural industry.
These ag literacy festivals engage students in lessons on livestock, crops and water, providing knowledge that helps prepare them to be more informed consumers.
“This is an excellent field trip where students engage and make real-world connections,” one educator said.
Students and teachers alike can appreciate the benefits of these festivals. Teachers were overwhelmingly satisfied with the content presented, and surveys report that 98% of teachers were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of educational content. Ninety-seven percent of teachers were reported to be satisfied or very satisfied with the presentation’s ability to be age-appropriate, engaging and relevant to classroom content.
“This festival was very connected to our social studies content taught on how important agriculture is for Nebraska,” one teacher testimony said.
The information taught at ag literacy festivals is essential to keeping consumers informed and aware of the importance of agriculture. Students can use these lessons to make informed buying decisions in the future and spread their learnings with family and friends.
“Parents have told us that the kids are transferring all their learning and sharing it with them at home as well,” one teacher explained.
In addition to production agriculture lessons, students are introduced to ag technology and agribusiness topics. This knowledge of career opportunities and the history of Nebraska's agriculture helps students better understand the role of agriculture in the state’s economy.
“Our students gained a deeper understanding of agribusiness in Nebraska,” a teacher noted. “They learned about the careers and history associated with agribusiness in Nebraska, as well as the plants and animals used to boost our economy. Our students have a better understanding and appreciation for agribusiness as a result of the Ag Literacy Festival."
Ag Literacy Festivals would not be possible if it were not for the contributions of Nebraska Extension 4-H’s partners, including the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Poultry Industries, Douglas County Farm Bureau, Madison County Farm Bureau and Midwest Dairy, which collectively generated over $16,000 in revenue.
The engagement of the partners below was also essential to developing the knowledge of the next generation.
- Local Farm Bureaus
- Local Education Service Units
- Nebraska Corn Board
- Nebraska Pork Producers
- Nebraska Ag in the Classroom
- Nebraska Poultry Industries
- Farm Credit Services
- Local County Fair Board/Agricultural Societies
- Local Natural Resource Districts
- Local Farmers/Ranchers
- County 4-H Councils
- FFA Chapters
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Depts of Agronomy, Ag Technology, Animal Science
- Nebraska Extension 4-H faculty and staff
- Implement dealers
- Midwest Dairy
- Omaha Home for Boys
- Gifford Farm/Educational Unit #3
This information will have a lasting impact on Nebraska and its consumers. Because of the lessons taught at ag literacy festivals, students are able to form a deeper connection with the history of Nebraska’s agricultural industry and implement their knowledge in day-to-day life.
“My students will understand better how to make healthy food choices. Students will understand economics better and how some people in our area make their money through agricultural jobs.”
Nebraska Extension’s 4-H Ag Literacy Festivals are more than field trip opportunities; they are catalysts for knowledge, bridges to understanding, and seeds germinating lasting connections. These festivals cultivate not only an appreciation for agriculture but also a future where the bonds between communities and their agricultural roots are firm, ensuring knowledge and appreciation for generations to come.
“We think the information is fascinating,” an educator said, “and gives us further reasons to have pride in our great state.”