Pasture to Pyramid youth program teaches students about health, nutrition and food


Oct. 27, 2010 at 5:27 a.m.

Sunshine, a brown dairy cow, chewed her cud as inquiring third-graders called to her handler, L.P. Voskamp.

"How do you get a cow to say 'moo?'" asked one child. "How do they make pink milk and chocolate milk?" asked another.

And, with a smile, Voskamp answered their questions.

Voskamp discussed dairy and gave a milking demonstration Wednesday during Pasture to Pyramid at the South Texas Farm and Ranch Show.

Pasture to Pyramid is a third-grade program that teaches children about health, nutrition and where food comes from, said Sarah Brandes, county extension agent for 4-H and youth development.

Topics range from heart health to growing a vegetable garden and more.

Voskamp, an instructor with SouthWest Dairy Farmers' mobile dairy classroom, said he enjoyed seeing the children take interest in dairy and hoped they took something away from his lesson.

Stacy Cis presented "Farm In My Lunch Box," discussing how food makes it from fields to dinner tables. To demonstrate, she brought ingredients for homemade mustard and a sample of the finished product.

Turmeric, one spice in the recipe, had more kick than anticipated.

"So we've got hot mustard," said Cis, an extension assistant with the Texas AgriLife Extension Program's Better Living for Texans program.

Kids also need a chance to burn off some steam, and Danielle Williams' station was where they did that. She presented the moving and motion lesson, where she explained the importance of exercise and got the kids involved in interactive games.

"It was a chance to get up and move around," said Williams, a recreation specialist with the city of Victoria's Parks and Recreation department.

Jennifer Ernst, a third-grade teacher from Chandler Elementary School, said the dairy presentation was a big draw for her students, but she appreciated the variety of topics.

"The kids are saying this is the best field trip ever," she said, seated among the children at lunch. "It's organized, engaging and it's keeping their interest."

The nutrition station taught 8-year-old Ariana Figuerova, of Chandler Elementary School, something new.

"I learned beans are kind of like meat," she said of the protein-rich foods. "I didn't know that."

For Emiliano Garza and Beau Henry, both 8-year-olds from Our Lady of Victory, the best parts included animals. The dairy stop was fun, they said, and it was great to get a closer look at the snakes and other creatures during the wildlife portion.

Beau offered a tip for students thinking about taking part in Pasture to Pyramid.

"You need to come here," he said. "It's really fun."



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