What If | No Empty Pots, Good Living Camp, Ranch Technology | Nebraska Public Media
(electric piano music) (electric piano music) Perks of the job. Cheers. (piano music) (piano music) (piano music) (sounds of crunching) A unique camp brings rural and urban kids together. Using food in lots of ways to improve lives and communities.
How this could replace this and other new technology for cattle producers. What if... (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (laughing) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (skateboard slamming) Welcome to another episode of our series on innovation and creativity in Nebraska, "What If?" We're here at the Bay. It's a unique place, part of a nonprofit called Rabble Mill, with mostly outside of school programs, helping young people dream big. Serving kids who often refer to themselves as misfits, with skateboarding, music, digital art, and a lot more.
We'll learn more about this place and a unique summer camp they help create later in the show. But first, let's visit another unique place with a lot going on. This one, using food to improve lives. (upbeat island music) (upbeat island music) (upbeat island music) [Mike] What do all these things have in common? (upbeat island music) Whether we are helping people grow food, connect them to food sources, showing them how to prepare food, earn enough money to buy that food on their own.
There should be no more empty pots in our community. [Mike] It's a philosophy and name of this decade old North Omaha nonprofit, that's using local foods to improve lives and communities. Where does the need for all this come from? I believe that the need for this comes from people trying to live. We have hunger, not because we don't have enough food.
We have hunger because of policies and because of issues with distribution. And because where the food is made is not usually where the food needs to be consumed. And the types of food and how to prepare it. (upbeat music playing) [Mike] Let's drop in on some of the things happening here. All right, we're gonna start with peas.
One for each of you. It may have a flower like flavor. Anyone wanna taste or smell the dill? It is an eggplant.
Well, we're showing local kids our rooftop garden and letting them taste and smell. You try first. [Mike] What do we like most? The peas. I like the catnip. [Mike] Do you like the flowers? Acquired taste.
You eat the flower. The flower petals. Do you wanna try it? Sure. It'll just taste like salad. Mild lettuce. Actually got kinda nice flavor.
Yeah. (soft techno music) (soft techno music) All right. (soft techno music) I like the peas better. [Mike] Not a swiss chard fan? Nah.
And our last one is called dill. Can you say Dill? [All Kids] Dill. We're gonna put all of our herbs into our mortar and pestle, and we're gonna grind 'em all up. And then we're gonna put on popcorn. [Helper] Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go.
[Maggie] We're teaching kids how to cook with local food. We want them to experience using those foods to cook with and using techniques for cooking. Like measuring. Our teaspoon friends gonna put two teaspoons. What we do is we're teaching culinary arts here for about eight week program. We wanted to utilize up some lemons that we had.
So we're teaching preservation. So that's where we make candied lemons. That's beautiful.
And then the other thing we're working on is focaccia. What we're doing right now is we're preparing meals for our community harvest program. [Mike] Tell me what you made today. So this is eggplant pomodoro on polenta.
So we have close to 200 community members who are either seeking food assistance or seeking healthy vegan meals that are cooked by actual people that are not processed foods, that are whole foods. I'm packing our CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It includes seven items sourced locally from different farmers in within 500 miles. [Mike] Even a program for food entrepreneurs with rental space and advice on things like creating a business plan. Melissa Pressler specializes in macarons, making the sandwich cookies for weddings, parties and sales at a local cafe. So could you do the business without being able to do it out of here? Probably wouldn't last long, just 'cause I need the space and it saves me so much time.
Two and two thirds tablespoons. [Mike] It's all connected by curiosity to self-sufficiency philosophy. And then we'll put it back on top of the oven so it could stay warm. [Mike] Different generations exposed to new things.
Taking experiences back to others in their communities. Our next thing is going to be all about compost. [Mike] Supported by grants or participants paying for what they get.
And it's a cycle. [Mike] Nancy William's background is as varied as all the stuff happening here. She grew up in a big Louisiana family that grew most of the food they ate. Got a grad degree in weed science and plant pathology. Worked for DuPont advising Nebraska Farmers, transitioned to working and teaching in the IT field.
All leading to this place and kind of back in time. So a bunch of kids and a bunch of gardens. Remind you of your childhood at all? Oh my gosh. Yes, 'cause I was the oldest of six and we had a whole bunch of garden stuff growing.
The fun part of this engagement with "No More Empty Pots", is I get a chance to take the best of what I had as a kid and bring this to a larger audience that may not have had these experiences or know that this is possible. (drum beats) [Mike] Lots of places do some of the things happening here. Williams says what makes "No More Empty Pots" unique is pulling all this and more under one roof, with lots of partnerships and lots of flexibility. Like when COVID hit, everyone working here switched to making and delivering 3,000 meals a week to folks who needed them. In simple terms, what connects all of those things is people caring about people. Us meeting each of us where we are to say, what is it that you want? How can we help you get there? You're having fun, aren't you? I am! I love this.
(urban street sounds) Those cookies you saw in the story and saw us eating at the beginning of the show. Let's learn how to make 'em and learn about the maker. So you're gonna teach me how to make macaroon. What's a macaroon, first of all. So a macaron, I like to just tell.
Macaron. Yeah, so macaroon is a coconut cookie with chocolate dipped. Macaron is what we're making today. So I'm gonna start over then so we don't have to clear that up. No, that's okay.
What's a macaron? It's your specialty. A macaron is, I like to just call it a cookie sandwich. That's the easiest way to describe it. Almond flour is the base. So it's like an almondy cookie with buttercream in the middle. Okay, you're gonna teach me how to make yours? Yes.
What's your recipe? I can't tell you. You can't tell me? I have worked on it for years and I don't want someone to come after me. Fair enough. We won't tell anybody.
How do we get started? Okay, so we're gonna start with the egg whites and egg yolks. So we don't need the yolks, we just need the whites. All right.
I'm gonna let the expert do the rest of 'em so. I had a easy bake oven was a little kid and I would beg my mom like every single weekend I'd be like, can we go get like more easy bake oven mix? Cause I just love baking, so. Okay, what's our next step? We're making a meringue. So we're going to whip this up until it gets foamy and then we add the sugar. And then this is when I add my food coloring. How can you tell it's done? The way you tell, just flip it upside.
(chuckling) All right. Now we are going to put the powdered sugar and the almond flour in this bowl. And crush up the chunks.
Okay. Do you wanna dump this in here? Sure. So is it your secret combination of things that makes it? It's just the ratio. It the same ingredients that everybody uses.
And then we fold. So this part is very important because if you fold it and you put too much air in it, you'll get too many bubbles. What were you thinking, you know, when you decided to make the jump to doing this as a business? I just have always wanted like when I was younger I always was a little entrepreneur. But also baking is just my favorite thing. I never get bored of it.
Feel like I get bored of things, but I've never gotten bored of this. So that's how I knew that I could do it forever. All right. I'm gonna let you do this. Okay, circle, fold.. Yeah, like that.
Circle and it's kind of scrape the edges. Yep. Again, you're just trying to get the air out, right? Correct. Are you ready to pipe this? I'm ready to pipe.
Fill it up and gonna hold it from the top. Yes. And then I just squeeze a little.
Squeeze from the top. Yep. Squeeze from the top. And if you get closer it'll come out in like a circle. There you go.
Like that, okay. Should we do the fake, "Oh they're done now" thing. (bell dings) Those look nice.
Thank you. And you know they're done 'cause they just pop off. So then we got our buttercream here. Oh this is pressure. I don't wanna ruin.
About this much? Perfect. Good? Yeah. What's next? I want a storefront one day and I want to just expand. I really wanna make like Japanese inspired treats 'cause I'm half Japanese and a lot of that is like nostalgic for me. These look great. Thank you.
I think we should try some. (upbeat music) Pretty good. Yeah. That's really good.
Well done. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks.
(skateboards rolling) There's also a high school here. Bay High is a Lincoln Public Schools focus program. Juniors and seniors spend part of the day at a traditional school and part of the day here.
Focused on things like digital media, content creation, even entrepreneurship. A lot of those same things Rabble Mill took west this summer when it partnered with another youth serving organization, that's 4H, to creatively bring together kids from different backgrounds. Time for an experiment.
Take some country kids, and things they normally do at summer camp, add some city kids, and stuff they like to do, mix it with the largest hand planted forest in North America, and the result is Good Living Camp. (kid shouting) (skateboard rolling) (kid shouting) (zip line sound) (skateboard rolling) (woo...) The scientists are two groups focused on youth empowerment or development. (chattering and classic music) Lincoln based Rabble Mill engages kids, with skateboarding, music and digital creation. Nebraska 4H offers lots club and activities, in areas like agriculture, science and entrepreneurship.
Both do things statewide. With Rabble Mill youth typically come from urban environments. 4H from rural areas. [Amber] They approached us about bringing what they do out here. I mean how could you say no to something like that? [Mike] Out here is the state 4H camp at Halsey National Forest. The idea of this camp is we got, you know, about 50 kids from 10 different communities, Omaha, Lincoln, in so many different rural communities, together in one place.
And we just kind of mix them up, and let 'em make friends, let them understand what different cultures are like [Amber] It's an opportunity to let youth see that ultimately, regardless of where you're from, you probably have more in common than you actually have differences between you. (upbeat music playing) [Mike] Here's some of the stuff that usually happens here. We wanna go retrieve their flag and bring it back to our side. Woo! (sounds of crashing) (sounds of crashing) (laughing) I hope I survive (upbeat music) (upbeat music) [Kids] Gaga, Gaga, Ball, ball.
[Mike] So what's Gaga ball. You put it inside the pit and you have to hit the ball with your hands. And if the ball hits your ankle you're out. (kids cheering and yelling) (kids cheering and yelling) (bubbles) [Mike] Here's some of the new stuff. You're gonna learn the basics of standing on skateboard, which foot should go forward and all that stuff.
(upbeat music playing) [Mike] Thank you man. [kid] I'm terrified of skateboards. [Mike] You look like you're doing pretty good. Why thank you. What do you think of this place? It's so very big, I think I've gotten lost like three times.
(upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) We've got a bunch of starlight disco headphones. (upbeat music) (kids grunting) The goal is to try to make a beat by the end of the time here. So record something. Do you start with drums? Do you start with the guitar? I start with the guitar. Why? Because that's like always sets the tone for what's gonna happen next. Whether you start with this or you start with the violins, you have a direction which is good.
DJing is just about manipulating a song to make it fun and to go from one song to the other. You're like juggling song, like play this song. Okay, play this song. How can I make the transition fun? (hip hop county music) (hip hop county music) Mess with that one. (hip hop music) Yep, that's why I moved so much.
'Cause I'm just like trying to remember. Even if I'm changing this song, or manipulating it, I still know what it's sounding like. (hip hop music) [Mike] Kids from Nebraska's largest city and towns with just a few hundred people, almost all the scholarships funded by Good Living Camp partners. Brought here without a lot of fan fare about the big goal of bringing them together. [Mike Smith] Everyone came here excited about one or two activities. but had no idea they were going to get thrown into the whole mix of it.
ooh. I like that It like adds a hip hop sound in it. Keep going, sorry. (upbeat music) I kind of just went into the guitars, and I kinda just started to play it, added a few things here and there. [Mike] I think some of the idea is to bring people here, that have different views and let them meet each other.
Have you kinda of had that experience? Yeah, I would say 'cause what I'm used to, you know, is not what they're used to. And what's that done for you? Well It's made me more open to what people think, I would say. How people act. You think you'll stay in touch with some of these kids? I think so, yeah. (woo...) [Hana] I've never been tubing before I've never been mountain boarding before I mean, I think it's cool, I'm really glad that there's people coming from rural areas and city areas who feel comfortable all coming together 'cause honestly some people from the city might be like this place, are we going to be on a farm or living in tents.
and then rural people are going to be like, What do the city people think of me? (wheels rolling) (chatter) Tap someone on the shoulder who before this camp you didn't think you'd ever meet them. Like somebody really new or I guess different. (soft music playing) [Mike] So can bringing rural and urban kids together for a few days of activities help heal a divided society? Absolutely, 100%. When it seems like the further that we get in our history as a country, the more divided people become.
And this is really a way, like I said, to show everybody that ultimately we are all human, and we all have that in common. (screaming) How's it going so far? Fantastic. It's exceeded our expectations in a lot of ways.
It's been cool to see city kids get so excited about being outside. And kids from the country skating on our half-pipe. And so, It's been awesome to watch. Just that cross immersion happen between youth. It's been really really special. We're hoping these kids can build allies that will be with them the rest of their lives.
And that these kids who are going to be running the state legislature one day, you know, they hopefully will have an understanding about what is rural life like, what is urban life like and you know they'll have friends in different towns. [Mike] Friends you've skated with, been in the mud with, danced with. (kids cheering) It's hard to hate somebody if you know them. (bubbles) The folks here at Rabble Mill and 4H were excited about continuing and even growing the Good Living Camp. But a couple months after the camp ended, this happened. A fast moving wildfire destroyed almost every structure at the 60 year old state 4H camp.
In all, the fire burned nearly 19,000 acres of the hand planted national forest and nearby private property. For now, the future is uncertain for the event and the facility. But if grass can start growing just four days after the fire started, maybe that's a sign. Kids come here to use tech to create music, art and more. Our next story is about innovation and technology in the cattle industry.
That could be moo-sic (drum roll) to producers ears. (cows mooing) (Mike) Ranching in the Sandhills, where cattle outnumber people. (cow mooing) You take the challenges that might exist any place with ranching and then you put 'em out here and they're multiplied, right? Yeah, yeah. A large percentage of cows in the United States are managed is in these environments like this. And they're not always easy environments to manage as well.
[Mike] Are animals healthy? Eating enough? Where do you want them? We spent a day with researchers at UNL's Gudmundsen laboratory. Folks looking at "what if" ways, using tech to make things more efficient for all cattle producers. Especially those out here. (tires rolling over dirt road) So what if collars could give producers data about the cows wearing them and even help move them around? [Mitch] So this is just a basic GPS collar.
There's also an accelerometer on this collar that measures both the side to side, the forward and back and the head up and head down motion on that animal. [Mike] That gives Stevenson lots of info. If a cow is eating, how much they're moving, important for tracking animal health. How cows and calves interact with each other, where they're eating, and how that impacts what they're eating. You want to be able to tell if they're spending too much time, for instance, in one area and what you can do to get 'em to other areas Right.
It makes for a more efficient grazing management if we're able to utilize an area more uniformly. This is our virtual fence collar that we have. So this ties into to being able to put that virtual fence [Mike] Similar to invisible fences for dogs.
It could cut down on the amount of time ranchers spend checking and fixing fences and help with range land management by move animals to different pastures remotely. [Mitch] And you could map out where those fences are on a computer program. And so what happens is, is that cow goes towards the fence, it hears an audio cue and oftentimes they get used to the audio cue, knowing okay, I can't go any farther. If they do proceed then, it gives them a mild shock to turn 'em back.
[Mike] So when you look at the the big picture of producers that raise cattle out in parts of the world like this, how does all this that you're doing with collars benefit them? [Mitch] That's kind of our goal here is to utilize this technology and tie it into the overall landscape management within an area. (tires rolling over dirt road) birds chirping [Mike] What if 3D imaging, adapting a camera from the video game world, could help producers know what their cows weigh? That's what Yijie Xiong is working on. So right now you're just running a lot of cows through here so you can capture images, then capture the real weight and begin to build sort of a database essentially of different sizes and shapes of cows and what they should weigh based on your imaging. Is that accurate? Exactly. And we have run I think more than 240 cows or heifers already. So I wanted to see if using some newer gaming cameras can actually help them do the job.
[Mike] So how does this help a producer knowing on a regular basis how much the cow weighs? Why is that important? If a cow is overweight, that is not good because that means probably the cow is being over fed. But if it is weight is skinny, that is also not good because it's probably gonna have a lot of reproductivity issue or that she's simply just sick. So knowing the body weight will be really helpful for the producer.
(gate opening and closing) [Mike] Ranchers could eventually set up cameras and capture images of cattle where they're at, maybe above a water tank in a remote pasture. Identifying problems sooner with fewer resources. Video game technology in the animal science world. Yep. You will never know what kind of possibility we can see.
If I can provide something that producers can really see benefits and to reduce their, you know, daily time and maybe in the long run it will be cost wise. That will be the biggest thing I enjoy for my work. (tires rolling over dirt road) (gate opening and closing) (tires rolling over dirt road) [Mike] What if there was a way to automatically control how much cows eat? First, the problem. Cows need supplements to the grass they're grazing on.
These feeders provide that, but different cows behave different ways. [Travis] And so what generally happens is you have the more aggressive cows eating three to four to five pounds of that and the timid cows may not get a thing. [Mike] The solution automation, giving cows just what they need, guided by individual electronic ear tags programmed by the rancher. If you've got this tag on the cow and this cow needs feed and you want it to have however much, this will trigger once it gets close, that opens, they stick their head in. Yep. And as soon as it gets to that amount, yeah it closes and it can't get back in here.
[Mike] For ranchers saving time, plus the costs of fuel to refill feeders and wasted feed. [Travis] And so it really can help control that cost and decrease that variability in animal performance due to under or over consumption. [Mike] A bonus, a cow stepping up to eat is also standing on a scale. [Travis] And so it provides me a avenue to get daily body weight.
That's very tough to get in a grazing setting. (tires going over dirt road) [Mike] So lots of interesting "what if" stuff here. Things close to implementation, some further away. All looking at the future in an industry Mullinix says is sometimes slower to embrace change. [Travis] There's always resistance because of some of the ideas and we've always done it this way. And so with any industry, there's always early adopters and there's people that don't adopt, and you know it's always the early adopters that progress and move forward and willing to take chances on stuff.
And so understanding where they can fit and where they don't fit is very important. (cow mooing) The ranch of the future is just a concept of how can we move forward and utilize to embrace some of these newer technologies as they come out. We can take that to a producer and say, look, you know this works great under the circumstance.
If you don't have this, I would not try it. 'Cause that's kind of the concept of how can we move forward to embrace technologies that can really help or be a test bed for technologies that may or may not help. (skateboard rolling) That's it for this "What If" episode, you can check out all of our episodes, our stories, and our innovator insight educational segments online. You can also learn about the Nebraska composers who created all the original music you've heard in our stories. And if you're on social media, check us out. Hashtag What If Nebraska.
Thanks so much to the folks here at the Bay for letting us hang out and thank you for watching "What If". (upbeat music playing) (skateboards banging on ground) [Kid] Are you ready for the half pipe? No. [Mike] Good luck. Thank you. Woo! What is it, ASMR? It's getting stuck in my Invisalign. Oh yeah.
[Mike] How'd that feel? Oh, really nice. Is it good? (upbeat music )