UWRF’s Ag Day On Campus A Success

Pictured: Scout Emery, right, the 2024 UW-River Falls Queen of the Rodeo, and Faith Watz, left, carry a baby goat and supplies at the start of UWRF’s Ag Day on Campus. Photo by UWRF/Pat Deninger photo.

Agriculture was visible in many ways during the Ag Day on Campus event April 11 at UW-River Falls. 

The event began with speeches by numerous people associated with ag-based organizations. This included Randy Romanski, secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. A large John Deere tractor was parked near a mechanical bull. A short distance away, children petted goats in a pen.

While those events are all part of Wisconsin’s agriculture scene, organizers of this year’s Ag Day on Campus hoped visitors took away a deeper, perhaps less obvious message: agriculture is vital to all of our lives. 

“We want people to have a good time, to enjoy the different events and the booths by student ag organizations,” says Aleah Cole, a senior animal science major. “But we want them to think about what they see here, what they learn, and then realize that agriculture is what makes the food they buy in the grocery store possible.”

Cole and Lashawna Vogel, a junior from Denmark majoring in agriculture marketing communications, were chief organizers of Ag Day on Campus. They stressed how the event is intended to educate attendees about the many facets of agriculture. 

Teaching moments were certainly occurring at goat pens set up at one end of the event. Young children eagerly petted the animals and asked many questions about them. “What do they eat?” one youngster asked about the goats. “Why is one bigger than the other?” another queried.  

“That’s what we want to see, to see those questions and that learning going on,” Cole said. “You want people to get more familiar with what happens on a farm.”

At a couple dozen student organization booths, students answered questions and discussed various aspects of agriculture with attendees. Later in the day, students and community members attended a dinner made of locally grown food. 

Romanski, a UW-River Falls alum, was attending his first Ag Day on Campus event. He said the day recognizes the vital role agriculture plays in Wisconsin. One in nine Wisconsinites is employed in agriculture.

“Where does people’s food come from? Where does their fiber come from?” Romanski said. “This event helps people make those connections.”

College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Dean Michael Orth noted the university’s “rich, longtime, strong reputation in agriculture.” UW-River Falls featured the new Wuethrich Family/Grassland Dairy Center of Excellence, which made cheese curds and ice cream for the event:

The products sold at Freddy’s Dairy Bar on campus are under the brand name Falcon Creamery. Kendra Jentz, an agriculture communications senior, is proud that UWRF can offer this dairy experience to students once again:

Katie Ketchum, a sophomore agricultural education major, said she hoped people at Ag Day on Campus enjoyed numerous aspects of the event. She also wanted them to learn about agriculture along the way. 

“I get to watch people’s faces light up when they realize where their food comes from,” said Ketchum, who is Minnesota’s FFA state president. “It is so important that people get to know that, and this event today helps them do that.”