This year, the fifth annual UW-Madison Ag Day on Campus, hosted by Collegiate Farm Bureau, coincided with National Earth Day. This was the first time the event had landed on the same day that celebrates environmental stewardship and sustainability. Therefore, we decided to embrace the national celebration, as well, and theme our Ag Day event, "Every day is Earth Day to a farmer."
Surprisingly, most students weren't aware it was Earth Day. They quickly realized that we were celebrating something, however, when they walked through the mass of Collegiate Farm Bureau (CFB) students wearing light blue shirts, under many of layers, since we endured a cold day with some light snow.
We had free food, milk and activities, and created a space where valuable conversations with consumers could occur. Most students stopped by for the free milk and can coozies that we handed out. Others stayed bit longer and tried samples prepared by the University Club, including pork belly, Baklava, and cheese and sausages.
A few students played on the pedal tractors and took photos in the photo booth. Many answered trivia questions to win free Ag Day sunglasses, and a few even milked a fake cow. It was fun to hear students walk away with their milk saying, "Wow, can you believe they are giving away milk and can coozies; best day ever!"
The conversations that occurred with students covered the sustainability of agriculture, growth of modern agriculture and technology developed and used in agriculture. While many enjoyed the milk and free food, this event also helped spark a positive connection for these consumers with the agriculture industry. Every milk had a sticker with the statement, "Farmers save the EARTH to pass it on to future generations #UWAgDay15." That, along with the coozie, signage on Bascom Hill and a newfound connection with agriculture students ensure that these student-consumers have trust in where their food is produced.
Channel 27 WKOW (an ABC affiliate) stopped by to record some footage that also spread the message beyond our campus community on the 6 p.m. news. Check it out.
This event serves as a springboard for other CFB events like the showing of the Farmland film, Ag in the Classroom and Ag Day at the Capitol. Our impact was large; hundreds of samples were given, 1,500 milks were passed out and valuable connections were made with members of the UW campus. We are excited to continue fostering a positive image for agriculture and food production in an audience where farming and agriculture is often misunderstood.
The author is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in life sciences communication with a focus in agricultural business and international agriculture. She is a Collegiate Farm Bureau member and the Ag Day on Campus Coordinator.