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In Farm to You program’s fourth year to come to Stephens County, it made an appearance at Marlow and Plato elementary schools.
A collaborative effort of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, OSU Department of Nutritional Sciences, Oklahoma State Department of Health, and Southwest Dairy Farmers, the primary focus is to teach children where their food comes from and how to eat healthy.
“We were excited about this program coming,” said Cathy Duke, Plato teacher.
“It’s a neat program health wise and some children need that hands-on learning. It has kept all of them very engaged.”
The goal is to visit two schools each year until all Stephens County elementaries schools have been reached. The program and volunteers visited Marlow on Wednesday and Plato on Thursday. Overall, about 1,100 kindergarten through fifth grade students went through the program this week.
Nine stations make up the agricultural and health adventure. They are the Cheeseburger Farm, To Market, Healthy Cool Café, Mouth, Stomach, Small Intestine, Muscle, Bone and Skin. Groups of 10 students spent about six minutes at each station participating in activities and learning about the relationships between agriculture, food and health.
“I love seeing the looks on the kids’ faces,” said Ashley Powers, volunteer. “I like having the opportunity to teach them good habits like washing their hands.”
Powers and her younger sister Amber were in charge of the skin station at Plato. The Powers sisters are home-school and extremely active in 4-H. This was their third year to volunteer.
Most of the other volunteers were from area Oklahoma Home and Community Education groups. Several of these women have helped with program before, so it ran like a well-oiled machine and kept the students’ attention.
“They’re having fun and learning a lot,” said John Millirons, Plato principal.
Children of these ages generally don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables. Instead, they have high calorie intake and low physical activity levels, which contributes to being overweight. Eating habits and lifestyle practices develop early in life, so the Farm to You exhibit promotes a healthy lifestyle at an early age.
“It is important for children to know where food comes from and how their food choices are related to their health,” said Brenda Gandy, Stephens County Family and Consumer Science educator. “Poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles among Oklahoma’s youth indicate the need to educate children on the importance of eating healthy and being physically active.”