Students Tour Texas A&M Poultry Farm with TFB’s Farm From School
By Jennifer Whitlock
During the final Farm From School session at the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) of the fall 2021 semester, young Texas students participated in an interactive lesson on poultry farming with the Associate Professor of Poultry Science at Texas A&M University, the Dr Craig Coufal.
Using video conferencing technology, students âtouredâ the Texas A&M Poultry Science Research, Teaching and Extension Center to learn how eggs and chickens move from farm to store to their plates.
Texas is the fifth largest state in the country for chicken meat and eggs, and the modern Texas A&M research center is conducting studies to help improve poultry science.
The students watched Coufal bring in different birds to discuss the breeds of chickens raised for eggs or meat. Thanks to the chat function, the children were able to send him questions to be answered in real time.
Not only were they interested in raising chickens and poultry, but they also wanted to know more about Coufal’s career. A student asked him how he uses science in his job every day.
âWhat I do every day is like when you go to the doctor for a checkup every year. The doctor weighs you, measures your height, your weight, your growth every year, âhe said. âWe do the same with birds, so we can figure out how, as managers, to take better care of birds to maximize the number of eggs and pounds of meat we can produce. We try to produce the foods you love for less. Because at the end of the day, that’s our job: to feed the world.
Participants heard more about choosing the right foods for chickens, why they are housed indoors, and how every part of their environment has been carefully selected to provide the most human experience possible.
âSo far this year we have had individual farmers who have shown us their crops and talked about how they grow these products, but this time we had a university professor who gave us an overview of poultry farming in Texas, “said Jordan Bartels, partner at TFB. Director of the Organizing Division, Education Outreach. âIt wasn’t just about a culture or a farm, but rather a big picture of how chickens are raised for eggs and meat. The students were also able to discover how different people have different careers in agriculture. A lot of them didn’t know you could be a scientist raising chickens, so they weren’t just interested in chickens but also what Dr Coufal is doing.
During the fall semester of 2021, more than 400 teachers and 10,000 students interacted with farmers, ranchers and other agricultural professionals through Farm From School.
Bartels noted that students are keen to learn more from farmers and ranchers about animals and crops, but like some of the questions put to Coufal, they are also interested in people’s lives.
âI think one of the things that struck me the most was their interest in how the farmer became a farmer,â Bartels said. âThe kids were really interested to know how they got started in farming and what they love most about it. This is encouraging, as some of these students might decide to be a farmer or rancher or to work in a profession related to agriculture because of their experiences today.
Many of the classes participating in Farm From School this fall will continue into the spring semester. But new classes can also register.
TFB will also provide TEKS-aligned lessons, activity books and other accompanying resources for the virtual farm tours. Public, private, and home educators who teach K-5 are eligible to participate.
Interested teachers can register on https://txfb.us/FFSregister22. Registration closes January 7, 2022, for the spring semester.
Additional details on the program, including dates and crops featured, will be added to TFB’s Agriculture in the Classroom webpage as they become available.
Contact Bartels at [email protected] or call 254.751.2569.