University of Wyoming research center teaches children about ag through potatoes
Lingle – The Taters for Tots program, sponsored by University of Wyoming (UW) Extension teaches children the importance of agriculture and giving them the chance to experience production agriculture in a hands-on way.
For the past six years, elementary-aged children in the Lingle area have been invited to visit and pick potatoes, all while learning about the important role production agriculture plays to Wyoming and the world, according to UW Research Scientist Brian Lee.
Lee explains potatoes, though not as prominent as they once were in the area, have historically been a staple crop for Wyoming.
The program is based out of the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SAREC), where community outreach and youth education are primary goals.
“The overall goal of this program is for kids to experience agriculture and learn about production,” says Lee. “Some of these kids have never been exposed to production agriculture in any way.”
Potato picking and beyond
Lee explains Taters for Tots, is something the faculty and staff at SAREC look forward to each year.
“Taters for Tots is one of our favorite events every year,” says Lee. “It’s really great to get the kids out there and experiencing agriculture in a hands-on way.”
Participating students are generally around the third grade and come to visit in the late fall when the potato harvest is at its peak, according to Lee.
The students begin their trip by viewing a short video presentation about the history of potato farming in Wyoming and the various ways to eat potatoes.
“Once the students are done with the video, they go out to the field and dig up potatoes, with the assistance of our faculty and staff,” Lee explains.
“The kids can take home as many potatoes as they can carry,” he says. “Some of them struggle to carry their haul through the field and onto their bus.”
A love for agriculture
Lee notes they want kids to leave the farm not only stocked with potatoes but with a positive experience and basic knowledge of production agriculture.
He explains for the staff on the farm, Taters for Tots is a great way to get back to the basics of agriculture and remind everyone why they truly love agriculture.
“Seeing kids out in the field having a good time is a great reminder for all of us as to why we do what we do and why we love agriculture.”
At the end of the season, the remaining potatoes are donated to various organizations within Lingle and Torrington.
“We send some of the leftovers to the food bank, and others we donate to different functions sponsored by various organizations within the community,” says Lee.
Callie Hanson is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.