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Eldon Weber, Agricultural Education and Studies, (515) 294-0893
Teddi Barron, ISU News Service, (515) 294-4778


AMES, Iowa -- Thirty Iowa middle-school students will get a taste of agriculture and a flavor of what it's like to work in the food and fiber industry during Pizz-A-Thon at Iowa State University, May 18-19.

The two days of hands-on, educational activities will cap off in-school studies that are part of the College of Agriculture's Pizz-A-Thon program.

The Pizz-A-Thon program encourages literacy in agriculture and awareness of career opportunities in the food, fiber and natural resources industry.

Six middle schools will send a team of students: Britt-Kanawha (Kanawha); Garner-West Hancock (Garner); North Iowa (Thompson); Walcott; Ventura; and Callanan (Des Moines).

During the school year, the student teams design a pizza, learning about each ingredient by tracing its development back to the soil. Then they prepare and present a marketing portfolio to sell their pizza to a company. In some schools and towns, school and community leaders judge the projects and the top team wins the trip to Iowa State.

At Iowa State, the students will tour the ISU Meats Lab and three university farms. They also will cook their pizzas and prepare marketing reports for the final competition.

Eldon Weber, outreach coordinator in the agricultural education and studies department, developed Pizz-A-Thon in 1996.

"The program is a fun way for students to learn about agriculture. They also develop other skills like problem-solving, communications, team-building and leadership," Weber said. "These students are very enthusiastic about their pizza projects."

Pizz-A-Thon program materials have been translated into Spanish for testing in Latin America, Weber said. An educator from Bolivia will observe the campus activities for possible adaptation in Bolivian schools. The program has been used in North Carolina and will be introduced in some Illinois schools next year.

Pizz-A-Thon sponsors include Iowa State's Vision 2020 Program, Pioneer Hi Bred International, Happy Joe's Pizza, and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.


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