By MITCH LIES
PORTLAND -- Students at Portland's Glenfair Elementary School were given a lesson in animal welfare at an American Humane Association's Awareness Tour stop March 22.
Students also were given an opportunity to board the AHA's 82-foot mobile veterinary command center.
The American Humane Association uses the rig when it attends to animals in natural disasters. The command center is equipped with veterinary services and rescue gear.
Students also learned a little about Foster Farms during the tour stop. Foster Farms is co-sponsoring the tour.
The AHA recently completed certifying all 42 Oregon and Washington Foster Farms ranches in the association's animal welfare program.
"We're very fortunate to be working with them," said Ira Brill, communications director for Foster Farms.
Students also were able to visit with Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba, who participated in the tour stop.
"We know that with fewer numbers of farmers, there is more of a disconnect between kids and what goes on on the farm," Coba said. "Bringing a truck like this to a school is a great way to engage kids and connect them to agriculture."
"When you can bring this kind of big rig to the schools, the kids really learn a lot," said AHA President and CEO Robin Ganzert, who also participated in the tour stop.
Coba said the tour, which is making stops at farmers' markets and other sites in several major West Coast cities, provides an opportunity to highlight the humane treatment of animals in animal agriculture.
"It's a way to show consumers that the food they are eating, the poultry and livestock, is raised humanely," Coba said.
"Consumers have shown much more of an interest in recent years in where their food comes from and how it has been raised," Coba said. "And they want it raised humanely. And this third-party certification program is a way to show consumers it is raised humanely.
"I think we're only going to see more of that in the future," Coba said.