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New Mexico State University

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N.M. State Fair Tours Teach Importance of Agriculture

ALBUQUERQUE -- Nearly 1,000 Albuquerque elementary school students will learn about where their food and fiber comes from during agricultural tours in September at the New Mexico State Fair.

Leading those tours will be New Mexico farmers, ranchers and members of the state's 4-H leadership team, a group of senior 4-H members serving as officers, ambassadors and diplomats, said Cheryl Butterfield, 4-H youth activities specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

"The children will start out by walking through the dairy barn to look at the steer projects. They'll go on to the `Sheep to Shawl' area and learn about weaving, and then they'll watch cows get milked," Butterfield said. "Along the way, they're learning a lot of information about agriculture, like how the animals are cared for and how 4-H kids raise them for their projects."

Other stops on the tour will feature animals with their babies, sheep shearing and horses used for pleasure, competition and work.

Extension, the New Mexico Beef Council and New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau are sponsoring the tours. Butterfield said the tours are mutually beneficial.

"The younger kids look up to their tour guides and by the end of the tour they don't want to leave," she said. "The tours also give leadership team members a great opportunity to enhance their leadership skills by speaking in front of these large groups, keeping them all together and just leading the way."

A lottery within the Albuquerque Public Schools will determine which classes will attend each tour. About eight tours will run daily from September 11-15.

For more information about the tours, call Butterfield at (505) 646-5204.