SDSU hosts Annual Ag Day on campus April 2
April 18, 2014
Agriculture was the topic of conversation on the South Dakota State University (SDSU) campus on April 2, 2014. SDSU's annual "Ag Day" was filled with fun activities, educational events, speakers, and an evening meal — all put together in the hopes of showcasing the state's farmers and ranchers and answering any questions students might have about where their food comes from.
"We served over 500 people at the evening meal," said Mary Christensen, Agriculture and Biological Sciences Prexy Council advisor.
With a line that spanned across SDSU's Student Union, the meal included pulled pork sandwiches from the SDSU Meat Lab, as well as SDSU's famous ice cream. Following the meal, Michelle Rook, ag broadcaster and market reporter for WNAX, spoke in the Volstroff Ballroom, presenting on the topic of, "Making Food Fights Fair: When The Rules Aren't."
"Rook did a great job as the keynote speaker," noted Christensen. "Students seemed to really appreciate her message about food issues and how to address them. The club booths across campus went well; we need to continue seeking ways to involve and include students and community members without an agricultural background. Ag Day is a great way to do that."
More than 2,000 free t-shirts were distributed to students across campus, so that was a big day to promote the day's event, as well as South Dakota food producers. Clubs on campus such as the Dairy Club had booths set up throughout the day to hand out samples and pamphlets, as well as have conversations with students about their particular commodity groups or club activities.
"SDSU Ag Day is a student-run event," said Christensen. "The Ag-Bio Prexy Council executive team takes the lead on the efforts. This year, the Prexy Council elected an Ag Day Chair, Abbie Schuring, who handled much of the logistics with support from her teammates—Michael Osland, president; Sara Colombe, vice president; Jade Kampsen, secretary/treasurer; and Tyler Vreugdenhil, Ag-Bio Advocate."
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In addition to the actual event, students spent weeks beforehand promoting agriculture on social media. Students Hilary Risner, Chelsey Johnson, Caitlyn Brandt and Renae Johnson maintained the SDSU College of Ag & Bio Prexy Council Facebook page, with agricultural student features, food facts, photographs, farmer blogs, and information about the upcoming event.
"The students who maintained the social media site did so as a part of their leadership class," explained Christensen. "Their contributions were vital to the success of the day. One of the most popular highlights from their work was the weekly #FeaturedFarmer student profile, which you can read on the SDSU Colelge of Ag & Bio Prexy Council Facebook page."
The #FeaturedFarmer included photographs and stories of agricultural students on campus. For example, one of the women featured on the #FeaturedFarmer page was Abbie Schuring, a senior animal science major at SDSU and the Ag Day Coordinator. Schuring is from Andover, SD,
"After the passing of my father, my family moved off the family dairy to Dell Rapids, SD," said Schuring. "It was halfway through my sophomore year as a Pre-Pharmacy student at SDSU when it finally registered; I was nowhere near happy when it came to my studies. In a conversation with my mom, soon after, she advised me to go back to my 'roots' and build on the agriculture lessons my late father had taught me – to take pride in the self-less hard work of farming the nation's food."
On campus, Schuring is involved with SDSU Women's Choir, Intramurals, SDSU Little International, SDSU Collegiate 4-H, and Ag-Bio Prexy Council. Schuring grew up on a family dairy farm and a commercial beef cattle operation. Her family also farmed wheat, corn, and soybeans.
"Growing up on the farm, I experienced the hardships and learned the work ethic that being a part of agriculture calls for," she explained for her #FeaturedFarmer spotlight. "I was fortunate enough to witness first-hand what it meant to be compassionate, genuine, and humble. This taught me at a young age to be grateful God gave me the chance to be part of something immeasurable, significant and necessary."
"The only way to calm the fears of the skeptics and ill-informed is to work together and communicate. Although SDSU Ag day only covers a small audience, I am so excited because it allows the students of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences to slowly but surely dissolve the misconceptions regarding antibiotic/hormone use in animals, GMO's and so much more. It's a great day, and I couldn't be more honored and blessed to be a part of it."
Schuring played a major role in planning the very successful event, which will be an ongoing tradition at SDSU.
"Our event encourages attendance from people across campus and in the community, regardless of area of study or upbringing," said Schuring. "Agriculture plays a pivotal role in our society, but is often overlooked or highly scrutinized. Our goal was to use this day to share the positive story of agriculture and the hardworking men and women who produce food for the world."
Sponsors who helped make SDSU's Ag Day possible included: Cargill, SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, SDSU Students' Association, SGS, South Dakota Conservation Districts, AgStar Financial, Asgrow & Dekalb, Farm Credit Services, Land O' Lakes, MaxYield Cooperative, New Vision Co-op, South Dakota Beef Industry Council, South Dakota Wheat Growers Association, Country Pride Cooperative and Fishback Financial Corporation.