Over a two-week period this June, Oklahoma State University Extension hosted its 2012 Camp T.U.R.F. (Tomorrow’s Undergraduates Realizing the Future). Through the program, at-risk youth — all entering their freshman or sophomore year in high school — explored a variety of careers in horticulture and landscaping.
Many of the students in the program will be the first in their families to attend college.
“The students experienced life on a college campus while exploring careers in horticulture via hands-on projects with professors,” says Shelley Mitchell, supervisor for Camp T.U.R.F. “The goal was to make first-generation college students feel like they would be successful and comfortable at college.”
Camp T.U.R.F. students visited the Anichini-Moore Ranch & Farm, a sustainable agriculture farm in Woodward, Okla., that raises heritage animals and plants, produces heirloom fruits and vegetables, and provides education on ecosystem management and land restoration. The tour gave students insight on how a farm helps support area communities by producing local foods and value-added products.
“The farm tour was designed to educate the kids about small farms, biodiversity and sustainability,” says Kathy Moore, owner of Anichini-Moore Ranch & Farm and an administrative council member of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) program. “We wanted to inspire them and get them excited about real food, farms, conservation, soil, water, rainwater harvesting, composting and soil building.”
Students also visited agricultural experiment stations and participated in hands-on activities that focused on water filtration and conservation.
Camp T.U.R.F. is an annual program that is sponsored by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the OSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.
For more information about Camp T.U.R.F., visit the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service website.