Touch-A-Truck and Extension: Teaching suburban families about agriculture
What’s the value of helping consumers know where their food comes from? Don’t we all go to the store to buy meat, bread, and milk, anyway? The answer is to have an awareness of how our life sustaining food is grown, processed and delivered to our tables. We don’t want to take the safest and least expensive food supply in the world for granted.
And living in Johnson County, Kansas gives us one of the best opportunities to do that of anywhere in the state. As the largest county in Kansas and part of the metro Kansas City area, we have families that have little or no connection to the farm and food supply anymore. But just a few miles away we still grow corn, soybeans, wheat, livestock and commercial fruits and vegetables. It’s the perfect edge of urban and rural cultures and a great opportunity to teach agriculture.
Touch A Truck
One of the tools we use to make this connection is an event called “Touch A Truck”. Touch-A-Truck is hosted by a growing number of communities to help increase awareness of the equipment used to manage our cities, offer community resources and to grow our food. Our biggest Touch-A-Truck event is held at the Overland Park Convention Center each year and reaches 4,000 to 6,000 kids and families by capturing their excitement of being around large farm equipment like tractors and combines. Educational exhibits help focus on the role of locally grown crops and livestock and how they are used in food production. New exhibits this year will include a chick hatching display and an observation bee hive. And in addition to the agriculture focus, Extension 4-H programs and food and nutrition programs partner with educational exhibits.
K-State Research and Extension gives farmers and urban consumer’s information to help make good decisions, including decisions about their food. Thanks to a grant from Johnson County Extension Education Foundation signage educates families on the displays at Touch-A-Truck.