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Over 70 Years of Representing the Farmers and Ranchers of Klamath Project

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1:08 am, Apr 21, 2024
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KWUA Educates students on the four F’s of water at Farm Expo

Farm Expo is one of the most anticipated field trips of the year for many fourth graders around the Klamath Basin. Since the 1970’s, students have had an opportunity for hands-on learning about many different aspects of Klamath Basin agriculture.

When asked, many former students, now adults, say it’s one of the most memorable field trips they ever experienced.

For two days, February 21-22, more than 850 fourth-grade students form the Klamath County School District, the Klamath Falls City School District, along with homeschool students visited the Klamath County Event Center for the 2024 Farm Expo.

Organized by the Klamath County Cattlewomen, the Farm Expo is divided into sixteen demonstration booths. Inside these booths are volunteers in the agricultural communities who speak for six minutes on the importance of agriculture and how it relates to the kids’ everyday life.

This year’s booths featured beef cows, dairy cows, 4-H & small animals, sheep, pigs, goats, horses, honeybees, hay, water, Master Gardeners, potatoes, grains, forestry, vector control, and Grange Super Market.

Students were escorted throughout the Farm Expo by Lost River, Henley, Mazama, and Bonanza Future Farmers of America (FFA) members. During the demonstrations fourth graders could interact with live hands-on exhibits and live animals.

Located in the middle of the expo is a dinner table with 155 place settings. These settings represent the number of people each American Farmer feeds annually, along with beautiful centerpieces made by Roses are Red. A sign predominately sits in front of the table reading:

“Our mission is to educate our community beginning with our youth that across our great county, farmers and ranchers work each day to produce the food you and your family enjoy. To us, farming is much more than our chosen profession. It is a commitment to providing you with safe, nutritious and affordable food, caring for our animals, our land and giving back to our community.”

Lee Sukraw educates local fourth graders about where our food comes from at the Midland Grange Supermarket booth. Photo by Chelsea Shearer.

Klamath Water Users Association hosts the water booth.

“For the last six years, I have presented on how much water it takes to make a school lunch,” said Chelsea Shearer, the associations Office Manager. “I was always quickly corrected by the kids that their school lunch looked nothing like the hamburger, fruit, salad, and chips I talked about. So, I rolled out a new demonstration from previous years and focused on the four “F’s” of Agriculture: food, fiber, fuel, and forestry, with a focus on relating back to water and the importance of water in the Klamath Basin.”

Shearer added, “When you tell kids you’re going to teach them some new “F words,” I quickly get their attention. It still amazes me how many kids do not realize how food gets to the grocery store shelves and how irrigation water is tied to their food. I love seeing the ‘ah-ha’ moments when kids put together that water from Upper Klamath Lake makes the food here in the Basin. These kids are our future, and KWUA will do all we can to ensure we preserve their agricultural heritage.”

Another stop on the expo demonstration tour, is the booth on potatoes. At this location they heard about the superpowers that potatoes have. Just one medium sized potato contains 26g of complex carbohydrates, 620g of potassium, 3g of protein, 27mg of vitamin C, 2g of fiber, and is made of approximately 80 percent water.

Potato booth volunteers, Colten Wright and Bryce Crawford connected the food on the kid’s table directly back to local agriculture.

“The Klamath basin is every potato’s dream growing ground, with its cool summer nights, nutrient-rich soils, and long days of sunshine,” explained the volunteers.

Students left the potato booth, grabbing a bag of Lays potato chips grown here in the Klamath Basin.

Rodney Cheyne, a local hay & grain producer, gives the demonstration on the wheat journey from farm to table at the 2024 Farm Expo. Photo by Chelsea Shearer.

Rodney Cheyne, a local hay & grain producer, gave the demonstration on the wheat journey from farm to table. He spoke to the kids about the four grains grown in the basin – wheat, rye, barley, and oats.

After he explained the process grain goes through, Cheyne played a guessing game of what grain was used to make an assortment of products he had displayed on the table. Products include Red Vines licorice, Teddy Grahams, Cheerios, and Cheese It.

“There is a disconnect with people and how their food gets to their table,” stated Cheyne.

When asked why he volunteers, Cheyne added, “I wish there was a prerequisite that kids must learn how agriculture will impact their lives and where their food comes from before graduating high school, not just in fourth grade. The disconnect is startling, but I keep coming back to try to move the needle of education.”

The Grange Supermarket booth was led by Lee Sukraw. He also talked with students about where our food comes from, mint production and many other products that come from Klamath Basin’s agriculture.

Sukraw’s booth looked like a grocery store. Where students could go ‘shopping’ for the products they had just learned about at the other fifteen booths.

Public Open House

The Farm Expo is for more than just students. Beginning at 4:00 PM on the first day, a public open house was offered. During this time, the community was invited to visit and learn about agriculture.

“We see a lot of kids who were here during the day, bring their families back to show them what they learned,” explained Shearer.

Returning for the second year, Klamath County 4-H hosted an Iron Chef contest and a livestock fitting contest for the public to enjoy. Jody Durighello, an Office Specialist for OSU Extension Center, and an instructor for the Heritage cooking classes, emceed the Iron Chef Contest.

Together with Snap-Ed and the Farm to School program, Durighello tasked 4-H and FFA members to team-up and create a dish.

The challenge was to create a fresh salad with a dressing. The team was guided to using three food groups and at least three parts of a plant – the stem, leaf, flower, or root.

Teams then created a grocery list, before visiting the grocery store table to find the ingredients. Contestants then had 20 minutes to create their dish for the judges to taste.

“I love to serve the community and especially takes an interest in our youth,” said Durighello. “I love to see them spark with interest in cooking and being involved in the community. Keeping youth involved in service is what will keep our community progressing forward.”

New for the 2024 Farm Expo, was the 4-H Livestock Fitting Contest. Where 4-H members fitted and prepared two sheep and three goats as they would do at Fair.

“Fitting it is similar to a lady getting a head-to-toe makeover,” said Madison Shearer a judge for the contest.

Contestants sheared, clipped, brushed, and shaped sheep wool and goat hair. They then applied an abundance of animal-safe care products to make the sheep & goats look their best.  Once the animal was prim and proper, the contestant presented them for judging.

Overall, the Farm Expo was a success in education and demonstration. Many guests expressed gratitude the Klamath County Cattlewomen and all the volunteers who worked tirelessly for days to bring this education to the community.

Cover photo: A dozen local fourth graders learn about the four “F’s” of agriculture – food, fabric, fuel, and forest; at the KWUA booth during the 2024 Farm Expo. Image by Brian Gailey.

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