Farm to You exhibit receives national award
Friday, November 5, 2021
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The exhibit recently was recognized by the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences with the Innovative Youth Development Award.
The award was established by NEAFCS in 2019 to recognize innovation and accomplishment in the design and implementation of a family and consumer sciences program targeted at youth.
Developed by OSU’s Community Nutrition Education Programs in 2008, Farm to You is a walk-through, hands-on exhibit that helps young students learn about where their food comes from, nutrition, proper hygiene, the importance of physical activity and more. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Farm to You modified its presentation methods for children to a digital format, said Becky Brown, CNEP project coordinator.
“While we love being out in the state and sharing Farm to You in person at schools, we knew that in order to continue sharing this educational content, we had to come up with a new way to present it in a safe manner,” Brown said. “Starting in December 2020, we set up the exhibit at OSU and schools were able to use Zoom to get a live walk-through of Farm to You.”
Since that time, Farm to You has reached more than 4,600 students virtually. Overall, the program has been shared with more than 155,000 students since its inception.
Brown said she and Jenni Klufa, CNEP assistant state specialist for youth, are thrilled to receive this national award for the program, which was presented during the virtual NEAFCS meeting.
“Never did we think that a brainstorming session in August 2020 would lead to a nationally recognized virtual experience. COVID stopped our programs in their tracks, but we adapted,” Brown said. “Teachers, schools, Extension educators and several academic departments at OSU came together to help students continue learning about where their food comes from and how to make healthy choices–all while having fun and staying safe.”
Healthy eating habits develop early in life, so a program such as Farm to You plays an important role in nutrition education for Oklahoma’s youth.
“About a third of Oklahoma children are overweight, but nutritional programming presented in a fun, hands-on way can help children make healthier choices,” Klufa said. “Poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles among Oklahoma youth indicate the need to provide education on the importance of eating healthy and being physically active, and we accomplish this with Farm to You.”
Schools interested in bringing Farm to You to students should reach out to their local OSU Extension office for more information. Plans are to continue in the virtual format for the remainder of 2021 and into spring. Brown said there are tentative plans to reintroduce in-person exhibits later in spring.
Although the programming had to change, Brown said they are able to meet more schools’ needs.
“Now, we have an even more robust program, and we’re able to do more for rural schools that we previously couldn’t travel to in-person because of our student minimum,” she said. “We couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help. Through this national award, we’re able to share our ideas with other states so they’re able to teach their students more effectively in an ever-changing pandemic landscape.”