The Ag Truths not Tales Program

Ag Truths Not Tails conference logo


Bernadette O’Rourke, UW-Extension youth specialist
Department of Animal Science
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 263-4304


Bernie O’Rourke explains how the Ag Truths not Tales Program helps 4-H youth learn to tell the story of agriculture.

2:56 – Total Time

0:17 – Ag Truths not Tales
0:38 – Why the program is needed
1:04 – Importance for youth
1:30 – Examples of what is learned
2:01 – Teaching leadership skills
2:46 – Lead out


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Sevie Kenyon:
Bernie, what do you have these 4-H kids doing?

Bernie O’Rourke: Over the last few years, we’ve had this Ag Truths not Tales conference and it’s a great interactive event that we’ve held for three years. In this event, we really just briefly, and as well as we can, give them tools and skills to be able to tell the story about agriculture.

Sevie Kenyon: Bernie, why did this program get started?

Bernie O’Rourke: Over the last few years we were really looking for some programming for our older youth in the animal projects; some more leadership opportunities that they may have not been offered. And so this idea kind of evolved from a leadership opportunity to really evolving into answering, maybe, some of consumer’s questions about where their food comes from.

Sevie Kenyon: Bernie, why did you feel this was important for 4-H youth?

Bernie O’Rourke: Many youth get stopped by fair-goers to get asked questions and they’re a wonderful audience for our youth because they really engage with one another at the county fair. So we really wanted to give youths some information to help them and make them feel more comfortable in visiting with our fair-goers, our consumers of the state of Wisconsin.

Sevie Kenyon: Bernie, do you have some examples of some things that the youth may learn?

Bernie O’Rourke: We sent them home with, really, some key messages. So, a couple of sentences they put together that they wanted to communicate about their project, such as, “I love my project because…” or “I really wanted to get involved in the sheep project because….” You know, it’s just some opportunities for them to be able to have something a little bit more prepared to communicate to fair-goers.

Sevie Kenyon: You mentioned leadership earlier. How do you think it helps youth with leadership skills?


Bernie O’Rourke: We want to be great about our project animals, and doing a good job, and getting them ready for the county fair and all that’s learned to that point but we also want to give youths the skills to become our promoters of tomorrow, being able to be involved in a career in agriculture. And so I think this program really develops some skills for youth to be thinking past their project, thinking past the county fair, and what ways that they can keep agriculture going in the state of Wisconsin or in our U.S of A and being able to communicate that and work together with others to tell that story and certainly be able to feel comfortable in working with younger kids to send that message as well.


Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting wit Bernie O’Rourke, Department of Animal Science, University of Wisconsin Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.

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