Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Art, agriculture and agvocacy

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It's not very often that I get to visit an art exhibit about agriculture. When the Florida Museum of Natural History had their opening day activities for the exhibit, Florida Cowboys: Keepers of the Last Frontier, I jumped at the chance to go. I love art. I love agriculture. I never thought about combining the two of them into an agvocacy moment, which is what the exhibit so joyfully achieved. It seems that the public is truly interested in what we might consider "an average day's work". In addition to the photography exhibit detailing Florida's beef cattle industry, there were groups from the University of Florida extension service, multiple beef breed organizations, and the gator collegiate cattle women. Each of the these groups, along with Florida Cattlemen's Association, educated museum attendees about the Florida cattle and ranch industries. What follows are my photographs from the event.

For articles published in the local newspaper, the Gainesville Sun, follow these links:

Museum offers a glimpse of the cowboy life

Cowboys mosey on up to museum

There was a heifer and bull calf there for visitors to see up close. Everyone was fascinated with everything about cow behavior. (I'm thinking the calves were thinking the same thing about the people.)

A cowboy was there with his horse, a descendant of the horses brought from Spain when settlers first came to Florida hundreds of years ago. He rode the horse a bit to show a few of the skills necessary for both to be effective at working cattle.

The cattlemen's association also had a few camps set up outside to let visitors know what it was like to work on a ranch before modern conveniences were available.

As museum goers were able to see, the accommodations were rustic to say the least.

Once inside the museum, other farmer based groups were there to answer questions and share the importance of agriculture to everyone's daily life. The Alachua County cattlemen's group provided literature and had a posterboard of cattle facts.

My boys and I stopped to enjoy some time with the Gator Collegiate Cattle Women at the University of Florida. They had "little people" oriented materials and games.

One of the games they participated in was learning about ALL the products that come from cattle.

Of course, we went to see the art as well. These are just a few of the pictures from the exhibit.

This Florida "cracker" cow greets people as they enter the exhibit.

Who knew picking up newborn calves was art?

In addition to the photography, there were exhibits with other husbandry items to help explain the process in the photos. In front of this picture, there are examples of products used on the day that picture was taken. There were antibiotics, dewormers, fly sprays, dehorners along with a rope and saddle.

Visitors can also take the opportunity to watch any of several movies running. They show the history of Florida cattle ranches and what it's like to work on one.

At the end of the day, even I was amazed that the art of agriculture could serve as an agvocacy moment. Perhaps this could be a lesson to all of us on finding another way to connect with consumers.

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