Students returning to school after a week of celebration and home-cooked meals will have another opportunity to eat and give thanks on campus this weekend.
Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 is the fourth annual Celebrating Idaho Agriculture weekend at University of Idaho, and this year, a dinner will be served Idaho style — with food the state is known for producing, such as beef, trout, dairy, wheat and barley, potatoes, peaches and more, in what is called the Idaho Agriculture Strolling Supper.
The event from 6-8:30 p.m. will also feature live music from Blue Highway, a band including two members from the Palouse area. Tickets are $25.
Donor and Alumni Relations Coordinator Carly Schoepflin, who is orchestrating the supper, said the event is a revamp of a similar, more formal dinner typically featured over the weekend.
“It’s going to be fun, laid back, there’s no formal program, and everyone is invited,” Schoepflin said.
She said dads are also expected to attend since the weekend coincides with Dads’ Weekend at UI.
The supper is just one event during the weekend that celebrates Idaho agriculture.
It also coincides with Ag Days, a similar celebration of agriculture geared toward high school students.
Anna Pratt, Special Events Manager for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), said 160 high school students are currently registered for Ag Days. Those students will have the opportunity to participate in agriculture related workshops, forestry tours, livestock and dairy judging and more.
But the weekend is not just about celebrating agriculture. It is about recruitment.
Pratt said Ag Days, in its 37th year, originated as a livestock judging event. Since then, it has been adapted to become a weekend of immersing students in the college experience to prepare them for their future and recruit them to UI.
Students will participate in back-to-back, 45-minute workshops with 15-minute passing periods to give them a sense of college schedules and spend the night in the Student Recreation Center. Pratt said the workshops will include everything from animal ultrasounds to plant cloning to sports nutrition.
“There’s a huge push for recruitment in the president’s strategic plan, and we want to model our event in a way that aligns with the president’s goals for the university,” Pratt said.
UI President Chuck Staben said he wants to increase student enrollment at UI 50 percent by 2025.
Pratt said this year’s event will also see an increase in diversity in the workshops and professors it features, such as workshops from the College of Science and the College of Natural Resources.
Last year, the weekend centered around the Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences.
This year, the weekend falls on National Family and Consumer Sciences Day, Dec. 3. The weekend will center around that theme, which covers what Pratt said is often a forgotten side of agriculture — clothes and nutrition.
“We’re trying to really up the family and consumer sciences focus of Ag Days,” Pratt said.
Pratt said the timing of the event has brought some challenges, since it is usually held in the fall.
This year, the weather will keep many events indoors, and the number of attendees is expected to be lower. That could be a contrast from last year, which featured the highest turnout the event has ever seen, 347 students.
Grace Wittman, president of the CALS Alumni and Friends Board, said she has attended a Celebrating Idaho Agriculture pregame event before with her family, and will attend again this weekend.
“We enjoy that event just basically because it’s really family friendly. Our kids get to go and enjoy different things like grinding their own wheat and milking a cow,” Wittman said.
This year’s pregame event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 3 in the Livestock Pavillion before the Vandals play Georgia State University.
Taylor Nadauld can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @tnadauldarg