Q&A with Andrea Dunlap on the 7th annual Youth Field Day
Of all the attractions and events that fire the imagination, there are few and far between that seek to inspire a love for agriculture and cattle ranching in the leaders of tomorrow. This year’s Youth Field Day and Expo, which was held on June 12, sought to do just that for youth and adult attendees. So we asked Andrea Dunlap, the Educational Media/Communications Coordinator for the UF/IFAS Range Cattle REC, to walk us through the details of the field day.
Central Florida Ag News (CFAN): Who put on the Youth Field Day and Expo?
Andrea Dunlap: This Youth Field Day is an annual event hosted by the University of Florida/IFAS Range Cattle Research and Education Center. This was the seventh year for this event, which was created to allow a specific day for students to visit the center. Prior to its establishment, we received many requests throughout the school year for student groups to visit and tour the Center. With our extensive research and extension programs, and the busy daily schedule of the ranch and support personnel, time available for special group visits is limited. To meet this need we established this one special day to welcome students to our center.
CFAN: What are the main goals of the event?
Dunlap: One of the goals of this event is to provide a special day for students, parents, youth leaders, and others to visit our center, see our facilities, learn about UF/IFAS and Extension, and what we do as part of that structure. Our main goal, however, is to excite the students that attend about agriculture and science, reveal to them future degree and career opportunities in those fields, and foster in them a love of learning which will promote agriculture and good stewardship in this and future generations.
CFAN: What is the value of the event from the standpoint of UF?
Dunlap: This event introduces Florida’s students—who are potential future ranchers, farmers, and leaders—to the roll and mission of the UF/IFAS Range Cattle REC within the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences system. It gives attendees, especially students, an opportunity to learn directly from specialists with an opportunity to ask questions and gain hands-on knowledge they can use. It promotes agriculture and science education, the future opportunities in these fields in higher education and careers, and good stewardship of Florida’s natural resources.
CFAN: Is the event just for kids?
Dunlap: Although this event is a day specially set aside for students, many families, youth leaders, and other adults attend. Attendees of all ages find the presentations, booths, tours, and activities beneficial with information they can put to good use.
CFAN: What were some features of the Field Day?
Dunlap: Year to year, the program offered differs slightly. This year’s program featured attendees rotating in groups to eight educational stations. Seven of these sessions were led by UF/IFAS Range Cattle REC Faculty and local UF/IFAS County Extension Livestock Agents who provided insight into their area of expertise and the work they do at the center. The remaining station was the ‘Expo’ portion of our event with approximately 18 higher education, community, and industry groups participating; participants included Mosaic, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Florida Fence Post, the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN), Florida Cattlewomen’s Association, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Field’s Equipment, and many others.
CFAN: Who was responsible for putting together this year’s event?
Dunlap: This event was a cooperative effort of the UF/IFAS Range Cattle REC Faculty and Staff and the South Florida Beef Forage Program (SFBFP). This year’s Youth Field Day Committee included myself, as well as UF/IFAS County Extension Agents/SFBFP Members: Courtney Davis and Pat Hogue (Okeechobee), Christa Kirby (Manatee), Sonja Crawford (Hendry), and Tycee Prevatt (Glandes). We are very grateful to this year’s Youth Field Day sponsors: Doyle Carlton III, Bar Crescent S Ranch, Wauchula State Bank, Farm Credit, McArthur Dairy, the Seminole Tribe of Florida – Seminole Pride, and Mosaic.