The ninth year of the Nebraska Ag Sack Lunch program has been the biggest one yet. By the time the program wraps up in May, nearly 5,250 fourth-grade students from 108 schools will have participated in this year’s program.
The Ag Sack Lunch Program provides free sack lunches to Nebraska fourth-graders who visit the State Capitol Building in Lincoln as part of their curriculum. While the students eat their lunch, they listen to a short presentation about agriculture in Nebraska. The sessions are led by “Ag Ambassadors,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln students who are passionate about agricultural education.
The event is designed to be a fun learning program for the students and, by extension, their parents, to demonstrate the importance of agriculture to the State of Nebraska and show them where their food comes from.
Teachers whose classes have participated continue to give the program positive reviews:
“The presentation gave the students fun ways to remember different aspects of agriculture and how it impacts their daily lives.” –Lacey Hollrah, fourth-grade teacher from George Norris Elementary, Omaha.
“The students were especially impressed that the lunch items were grown in Nebraska. Very nice correlation.” — Carolyn Timm, from Immanuel Lutheran School, Columbus.
“I appreciate the information that was presented because it caught the attention of the kids. The deck of cards will further inform the kids with interesting agriculture facts.” — Pam Schrader, Lincoln Christian School, Lincoln.
The Ag Ambassadors inform students that one in four jobs in Nebraska has some connection to agriculture beyond farming itself, such as equipment manufacturing and sales, building construction, transportation and supermarket retailers. They also explain the state ranks first in the country for cattle on feed, sixth in pork production, and that over one-third of Nebraska-produced grain is fed to livestock within the state.
Each student receives a special deck of playing cards, which lists fun facts about agriculture. The deck also includes two special games, “Crazy Soybean” and “Old Corn Maid,” to keep the students entertained while continuing to learn about Nebraska agriculture.
Since its inception in 2010, the program has provided more than 45,200 students with free lunches and an introduction to the state’s number one industry. Sponsors of the Ag Sack Lunch Program include the Nebraska Soybean Board, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, the Nebraska Beef Council and Midwest Dairy.
Thirteen UNL students served as Ag Ambassadors throughout the 2018-2019 school year. Most of them are pursuing ag-related degrees. They are Claire Dressman, Superior; Jordan Bothern, Lincoln; Grace McDonald, Phillips; Abby Durheim, Sunbury, Ohio; Shelby Riggs, Mitchell, S.D.; Makayla Burg, Papillion; Shelby Wachter, Blair; Sage Williams, Eddyville; Christy Cooper, Waverly; Jadyn Heckenlively, Orleans; Hailey Walmsley, Norfolk; Jessica Rudolph, Gothenburg; and Kelli Mashino, Spencer.