Since 2008, the North Dakota State University Animal Sciences Department, along with the NDSU Extension Service, has been sharing their passion for meat with people across the state. It all started in Carrington where local extension staff reached out to NDSU to help them put on a community event that could incorporate a BBQ element.
They discovered that not only was this a fun program for the community, but a great opportunity for the university as well. People came to the event and not only learned about BBQ, but also the importance of agriculture and the food supply chain. “BBQ is a great tool,” said David Newman, assistant professor in the meat-animal science department of animal sciences at NDSU. “It’s getting to people through their stomach.”
After the booming success in Carrington, the decision was made to take the program across the state the following year. With a growing majority of the population working outside the realm of agriculture, BBQ Boot Camp looks to educate people who go through the program on not only cooking meat but where their meat might come from.
“We’re not badgering them with information,” said Newman. “We’re talking a lot about BBQ and meat and science tips and tricks from the field we work in and then, while we are talking about that, we include important information on our focal points.”
An important aspect of the BBQ Boot Camp is having fun. While the main focus is education, “At the end of the day, we are a laid-back group and we want people who attend to learn something, but also have fun while they are doing it,” Newman said.
What can you expect if you attend The Chamber’s BBQ Boot Camp? Since the program started, approximately 5,000 people have completed the boot camp. Of the participants who have completed the survey, satisfaction ratings are above four-point-five on a five point scale. While the respondents have commented on the high skill level with cooking techniques, they are most impressed with the cohesiveness of the presenting group and their ability to make the boot camp fun and engaging.