The After-School All-Stars (ASAS) visited the Department of Animal Sciences as part of CampUS 2018. ASAS Ohio holds the weeklong CampUS at The Ohio State University to help low-income, at-risk, middle-school aged children from Central and Northwest Ohio prepare for college and career readiness.
Fifteen eighth-graders learned about food safety, food preparation, muscle composition, and quality-assurance from Dr. Lyda Garcia, assistant professor of Meat Science. Dr. Garcia led students, divided into four groups, in preparing their own breakfast sausage with various spices, followed by taste testing of the finished products. The student groups evaluated the finished products based on four categories often used in consumer taste panels: saltiness, flavor, spice, and the overall likeness of products. The students then tried to determine which product would be most successful in the consumer market. This is the third year Dr. Garcia has hosted students from CampUS; she sees her work with CampUS as an opportunity to continue her mission to promote higher education through Extension and outreach.
“I enjoy working with this audience. This program allows this group of students to see a person of color who can show them that the sky is the limit. I am given the opportunity to share the importance of a higher education despite challenges. Ultimately, they have a choice in their future,” said Dr. Garcia.
Dr. Garcia recognizes that most people do not think about meat science as a career option. “Meat Science is a unique subject area; in the beginning, most students don’t know what to expect. Students often start out unenthused; however, midway through, they are so engaged with the workmanship of their product and sensory evaluation, that the questions are endless. Like anything unique, when first introduced, one must present a glimpse of the topic at hand before one can take an interest; then they’re hooked,” said Dr. Garcia.
CampUS students are divided by grade (6th, 7th, 8th) during the morning and brought together in the afternoons for full-group activities. The grades spend time focusing on different areas; the 6th graders are introduced to career planning, the 7th graders start researching schools they might be interested in attending, and the 8th graders focus on college applications and interviews. This year, the 44 students came from The Champion School in Columbus and three different middle schools from the Toledo-area. Each year, the students divide into 4 groups and each group is named after a university. As part of the 7th graders research into institutions of higher education, they spend more time on the “group name” universities and they must attempt to “recruit” students to their university. Every year, the universities are representative of different types of institutions. One year, the focus was on community colleges, this year, its smaller, four-year universities (Ashland University, Loyola University Chicago, Northern Iowa, and Ohio Dominican University). In the evening, students hear from Central Ohio professionals.
“The students have heard from bankers, doctors, teachers, EMTs, and other professionals,” said Assistant Director of Programming Justin Edgell. “We have the professional talk about the educational and professional steps they took to get where they are.”
CampUS Ohio is eight years old; the past five years have been at Ohio State. “There’s no other university in Ohio with the same amenities,” said Edgell. Students stay on campus all week, take classes, and visit the various colleges to gain exposure to university life and different educational areas. The Department of Animal Sciences relationship with ASAS extends beyond CampUS, the Animal Science Community Alliance volunteers with ASAS during the academic year.
According to the ASAS Ohio website, the organization, founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger, got its start in 1992 as the Inner-City Games. The Inner-City games were created to build self-confidence and alliance among inner-city youth. The Inner-City Games became the After-School All-Stars in 2002 to represent the expansion of the program into after-school programming to promote community service, higher education and careers. The ASAS Ohio website states, “ASAS serves over 72,000 low-income, at-risk youth in Title One schools in 42 cities across the country – from New York to Hawaii.” According to Edgell, ASAS Ohio benefits from Columbus’ ties to Schwarzenegger, “Every year there is a fundraiser held during the Arnold Sports Festival.” These funds help make the after-school and summer programming free for the participating students.