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Students in Utah State University's Animal Science Club are helping teachers explain the importance of agriculture and good nutrition to youngsters across the state.

"We found many kids don't understand agriculture and how food is produced," explained Nichole Phillips, vice president of the Animal Science Club. "Kids go to the grocery store and see milk and meat and produce and they think it just comes from the store. They don't understand how it is produced, processed and how it gets to them."With funding from the Utah Pork Producers and the Utah Beef Council, the USU students have purchased educational materials from The National Livestock and Meat Board and are distributing the information at no cost to teachers across Utah and in southern Idaho.

The packets include filmstrips, videotapes, computer software, worksheets, posters and other educational materials on topics ranging from, "Health and Nutrition: A Matter of Facts" to "Learning About Deli Meats".

The teaching materials, which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, are geared to specific grade levels and tie in to many areas of the curriculum, Phillips said.

There are spelling exercises, forms for charting calories and the nutritional value of menus and information about cultural influences on the foods people eat.

The students have distributed the information at the Utah Education Association's annual conference in Salt Lake City, provided student teachers from USU with materials and filled numerous mail and telephone requests for the teaching kits.

"We think it's important to educate children about agriculture and nutrition because they are future consumers," Phillips said.

The students have received reports of children who have already put their new knowledge to use and taught their families to rethink their eating habits and work toward eating more balanced diets, Phillips said.

Educators interested in receiving materials should contact USU Animal Science Club, c/o Haven Hendricks, UMC 4815, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-2141.