Connecting Youth With Agriculture

Southwest Research Center hosts elementary students

With a focus on connecting youth with agriculture, the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Southwest Research Center hosted more than 150 elementary students for an agriculture fun day in June.

There were numerous stations where the students stopped and engaged with agricultural experts about a variety of topics.

“Jendel Wolfe (office support assistant) worked extremely hard to see that we had a broad swath of agriculture covered, from dairy, beef and bees, to hay, vegetables, caterpillars and soil,” said David Cope, Southwest Research Center superintendent.

Students learned about a variety of agriculture-related topics during the Center's agriculture fun day. Photo courtesy of the Southwest Research Center.Students learned about a variety of agriculture-related topics during the Center’s agriculture fun day. Photo courtesy of the Southwest Research Center.

The attendees were third through fifth grade students from the Mt. Vernon Intermediate School.

The goal of the day was to showcase the role agriculture plays in everyday life. From food to clothing, the Southwest Research Center touched on the importance of agriculture.

“As the generation gap relating to farmers widens and fewer people understand where their food and fiber comes from, it becomes increasingly important to teach our young people,” Cope said. “They are our future. It is important that we help do our part to educate them about where their most basic needs come from.”

Students were able to learn about flowers, birds and insects during the prairie station. There were also presentations on bees and beehives, as well as a caterpillar petting zoo. Students engaged with experts about soils, crops, blackberries, how germs spread and the difference between dairy and beef cattle.

Speakers at the Southwest Research Center also explained how cheese is made from the milk from dairy cows and how cotton is used in an assortment of items, including t-shirts and money.

“The kids were engaged and asked a great many questions,” Cope said. “At the end of the day, all the presenters were happy with how involved the students were in the agriculture discussion.”

The Southwest Research is located at 14548 Highway H in Mt. Vernon. For more information about the Center, call 417-466-2148 or visit