On April 14, 2012, the Auburn University College of Agriculture hosted the 5th Annual Beef Excellence Education for You Program. More than 100 students, ages 6-18 years old, and their parents, teachers or extension agents visited the Stanley P. Wilson Beef Teaching Unit and the Lambert-Powell Meats Lab to learn about the beef industry and how beef cattle are processed for consumption.
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BEEF U was sponsored by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama Beef Check-off Program and the Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences. Twenty six faculty members, staff members, graduate and undergraduate students from the College of Agriculture volunteered their Saturday to be instructors for activities which included: beef facts and identification, “cow chow” and feed identification, evaluating calves, evaluating cuts of beef, cattle welfare, food production and “Wow that Cow!” activities.
The extension program coordinator, Lisa Kriese-Anderson, who is an associate professor in beef cattle breeding and genetics, said that BEEF U is an opportunity for young people to learn about both agriculture and the beef industry.
For hands-on activities, BEEF U had an “Iron Chef” competition for the older age bracket, and a sausage or steak nugget production session for the younger children. Erin Beasley, director of consumer marketing for the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, led both of the “Iron Chef” sessions.
“It’s amazing to see these kids jumping into cooking,” said Beasley. “Especially the boys, they really wanted to be involved and make it look as good as the recipe photo.”
The adults in the group were just as intrigued as the students. Ladies from Houston County, Ala. said that they had no idea that Auburn had a beef teaching unit, let alone its own meat processing facility. They also said that they didn’t know that things like crayons and glue came from cattle by-products (the “Wow that Cow!” station).
Towards the end of the day, everyone gathered back together to taste the handmade sausage and steak nuggets, parents raved over the products the children had made. The smiles and expressions of both the adults and children showed the success of the program.
“They are our future,” said Kriese-Anderson. “We have to make sure they know how important this way of life is.”