Soil conservation ed coordinator wants kids to know: Food and more comes from farms
Published 10:35 am Monday, November 13, 2017
Harrodsburg resident Elizabeth Chunglo hopes to help children learn more about where their food comes from in her role as the first official education coordinator for the Boyle County Soil Conservation District.
“My job is to try and coordinate activities and programs in the schools or in the community, to educate about conservation and agriculture,” she said.
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Chunglo wants to connect with teachers and get programs into the schools, especially for elementary-aged children, in order to teach them about where their food comes from.
“I won’t necessarily be the one teaching the program, but if I can give (teachers) the resources to have it into the schools,” she said. “I’d like to do that.”
Chunglo can provide resources to classes that want to take on agriculture- or environment-based projects, such as creating a butterfly garden.
“We can help them to do that, either by providing the soils, the plants to help them get started, or help them with some educational resources,” she said.
Some schools, she said, already have outdoor gardens; Chunglo said she could help them get resources to expand or revamp those projects.
“I know their budgets are tight. We can help them to have those resources to gain some education for the kids — it’s staggering the number of kids that don’t know where their food comes from,” Chunglo said. “They don’t know that their hamburger from McDonald’s comes from a cow. They don’t know the cheese comes from a cow. It’s unbelievable.”
Chunglo has games she can take into classrooms. One helps children link their food to the farm.
“It does not matter what meal they think of or what food they think of, every part of that meal can be traced back to the farm,” she said. “They don’t realize that some of their tangible items — toys and things — come from the farm. That rubber comes from the farm. Clothing, cotton is an agriculture product.”
One of her projects includes talking about where various “random items” come from.
“One little girl was really excited about the lipstick that I had sitting out front. She thought that was the best thing ever,” Chunglo said, referring to when she did the project at the Boyle County Public Library over the summer.
Chunglo said she can also bring an “Enviroscape Table” for slightly older kids. It’s a topographical map that shows how water run-off works.
“You put your buildings and cars on it. You put pollution — green jello for pollution — and you put chocolate sprinkles for animals on the farm. Then you have kids spray it with a water bottle when its raining. It shows where the water runs off,” she said. “You talk about the water supply, and show them ways to help it, by planting trees along the banks to keep pollution from running into it.”
She also has other lessons, such as one that teaches kids how trees get planted, talking about how birds spread seeds; another making an ornament; and a third making chapstick.
The lessons, she said, aren’t long, but they are “fun and hands-on.”
Another resource, Chunglo said, is that she can bring an activity trailer from the Department of Agriculture and hopefully bring in high-school Future Farmers of America students to help teach.
She said she could reserve the trailer for the spring or fall and keep it for a few weeks, moving it from school to school, if there’s enough interest.
“Help me help you,” is her plea to teachers.
“I know they have a busy schedule and busy curriculum, I’m just trying to find a niche to work with their schedules,” she said.
She’s also willing to set up at events or with other community groups.
Chunglo said it’s important to note that someone has always filled the education coordinator role for the soil conservation district in some way, but she’s the first who was specifically hired for the role.
Currently, Chunglo’s office is preparing to accept submissions for the district’s yearly art and writing contests. Submissions are due back the first week of December.
Students in first through fifth grades can submit their artworks relating to soil conservation, while students in grades six through 12 can submit their writing pieces relating to soil conservation.
There will be an awards banquet in February and cash prizes will be given to the winners.
Chunglo, who started in April said she is also learning how to be a technician for the district, working with farmers to help them receive funding for projects on the farm.
Raised on a horse farm, Chunglo has a background in animal science and a degree in agriculture from Western Kentucky University.
She lives in Harrodsburg with her husband, her daughter and her son, on the family’s horse and cattle farm.
“I grew up with horses; my husband grew up with cattle. So we joined together,” Chunglo said.
Chunglo said the conservation district’s goal is to support the community.
“We can provide funding for projects that maybe you may not otherwise be able to do,” she said.
For farmers, they can help with seeding, rotational grazing and more.
“It’s two-fold — it’s preserving the land and it’s also helping the farmer get the most out of their property,” she said.
SO YOU KNOW
The Boyle County Soil Conservation District office is located at 448 N. Danville Bypass, in the same building with Boyle County Farm Bureau.
Elizabeth Chunglo, education coordinator, can be reached at (859) 236-4062 or (859) 583-9522, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org