Every year, farmers, ranchers, agricultural businesses, universities, and consumers across America join to recognize the contributions of agriculture during National Agriculture Week. This year, Dawson County Farm Bureau and Dawson County Cattlemen donated beef to local schools to benefit their communities and connect kids to agriculture, which is a cornerstone of the local economy. 
Nebraska ranks number one in red meat production, and Dawson County ranks as the number two county in Nebraska with over $520 million sales of cattle and calves.
Shannon Peterson, a Dawson County Cattleman’s member, said the ag groups were looking for a way to promote the importance of agriculture in the area, and what better way than to give beef. “There is a lot of discussion about healthy school lunches, and we wanted to give students a great beef experience within the guidelines of the national school lunch program.”
5,232 students enjoyed a beef meal from the Dawson County ag groups. Food service coordinators were given total discretion to come up with a delicious and healthy recipe for students featuring the beef provided. Beef is a great source of the nutrients people need on a daily basis. Recipes ranged from tacos, hot beef sandwiches, beef and noodles, and hamburgers.
In addition to the beef donation, the Dawson County ag groups aimed to share information and promote beef in the classroom. Students today are three to four generations removed from the family farm or ranch and have little to no understanding of agriculture. Beef booklets full of information and a lesson from each school’s FFA chapter was given to 359 fourth graders across the county.
“We were very excited to partner with the local FFA chapters to show students that the beef they eat comes from a farm or ranch,” said Britt Anderson, a Dawson County Farm Bureau member. “Being able to provide a leadership opportunity for our local FFA chapters is a win-win opportunity, with the younger kids learning more about Nebraska agriculture and the FFA members practicing community service and leadership skills.
Materials and training were provided for the FFA chapters by Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s Agriculture in the Classroom Program. “We were very excited to be able to partner with the local FFA chapters to provide resources to the local Dawson county schools,” said Courtney Schaardt, director of outreach education with the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. 
The Foundation’s mission is to engage youth, educators, and the general public to promote an understanding of the vital importance of agriculture in the lives of all Nebraskans.