Where does Pizza come from?”

Where does Pizza come from?”  Helping fourth grade students solve that mystery was the goal of the 16th Annual “Experience Agriculture: Special Assignment Pizza” event held Thursday, April 4th in the Memorial Building, Devils Lake.

NDSU Extension Offices in Benson, Cavalier, Nelson, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner Counties in conjunction with the North Dakota Farm Bureau, the Ramsey County Fair Board, Ramsey County Farm Bureau, Ramsey County Farmers’ Union, Ramsey County Soil Conservation, Hot Stuff Pizzeria and the Lake Region Agri-Women are again sponsoring the event.

"No one has 20 volunteers ready and waiting to work on an event, but by breaking it down into specific tasks it works much easier," said Brenda Langerud of the Ramsey Extension Office of the many groups working together.

“Explore Agriculture: Special Assignment Pizza,” developed by the ND Farm Bureau, centers on a theme youngsters can identify with - tracing the many ingredients found in pizza to their origins on farms and ranches. The event focuses on “hands-on” learning. And with 280 students from eleven schools there were lots of hands to participate!

Students began the program by viewing a video clip, which challenged them to solve a mystery: Where does pizza come from? Students then gathered clues at booths devoted to different pizza ingredients such as cheese, meat, flour, and others, and gain in understanding the processes necessary to produce a common food such as pizza.

At the grain booth, the fourth graders see how wheat is made into flour for the pizza crust by actually grinding some grain into flour. At the booth featuring pork and beef as nutritious toppings for pizza, students play “Squeal of Fortune.”

Students toured the exhibit booths in groups of 8-10, with each tour lasting approximately one hour and 10 minutes. At the conclusion of the tour, each teacher received a resource guide with worksheets and activities for further classroom study and two “start-your-own herb garden kits.”  Plus everyone received a slice of pizza!

Members of the North Dakota Farm Bureau manned the booths along with staff from the NDSU County Extension Offices, Ramsey County Fair Board and Ramsey County Soil Conservation. Members of the Lake Region Agri-Women Chapter helped guide the students from booth to booth. Students snacked on a slice of pizza after visiting the booths courtesy Hot Stuff Pizzeria, Ramsey County Farm Bureau and Ramsey County Farmers’ Union.

Agriculture is an important industry in North Dakota, but with fewer farms and even fewer farmers, not many children have first-hand experience with agriculture. Learning experiences such as “Experience Agriculture: Special Assignment Pizza” aid students in understanding our region’s agri-business economy. During the past sixteen years, it is estimated that the event has reached over 7,000 students with its message of the importance of agriculture. There has even been former students who have participated in their youth then have returned as teachers bringing another generation to the event.