The ninth year of the Nebraska Ag Sack Lunch Program has been the biggest one yet. By the time the program wraps up later in May, nearly 5,250 fourth-grade students from 108 schools will have participated in this year’s program.
The Ag Sack Lunch Program provides free sack lunches to Nebraska fourth-graders who visit the State Capitol Building as part of their curriculum. While the students eat their lunch, they listen to a short presentation about agriculture in Nebraska. The sessions are led by “Ag Ambassadors,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln students who are passionate about agricultural education.
The event is designed to be a fun learning program for the students and, by extension, their parents, to demonstrate the importance of agriculture to Nebraska and show them where their food comes from.
Teachers whose classes have participated continue to give the program positive reviews:
“I appreciate the information that was presented because it caught the attention of the kids," said Pam Schrader, who teaches at Lincoln Christian School. "The deck of cards will further inform the kids with interesting agriculture facts.”
The Ag Ambassadors inform students that one in four jobs in Nebraska has some connection to agriculture beyond farming itself -- equipment manufacturing and sales, building construction, transportation and supermarket retailers. They also explain that the state ranks first in the country for cattle on feed, sixth in pork production, and that over one-third of Nebraska-produced grain is fed to livestock within the state.
Each student receives a deck of playing cards that lists fun facts about agriculture. The deck also includes two special games, “Crazy Soybean” and “Old Corn Maid,” to keep the students entertained while continuing to learn about Nebraska agriculture.
Since its inception in 2010, the program has provided more than 45,200 students with free lunches and an introduction to the state’s No. 1 industry. Sponsors of the Ag Sack Lunch Program include the Nebraska Soybean Board, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Pork Producers Association and Nebraska Beef Council.
Thirteen UNL students served as Ag Ambassadors throughout the 2018-2019 school year. Most of them are pursuing ag-related degrees. They are Claire Dressman, Superior; Jordan Bothern, Lincoln; Grace McDonald, Phillips; Abby Durheim, Sunbury, Ohio; Shelby Riggs, Mitchell, S.D.; Makayla Burg, Papillion; Shelby Wachter, Blair; Sage Williams, Eddyville; Christy Cooper, Waverly; Jadyn Heckenlively, Orleans; Hailey Walmsley, Norfolk; Jessica Rudolph, Gothenburg; and Kelli Mashino, Spencer.