BBQ Boot Camp is a grass-roots effort by North Dakota State University Animal/Meat Science partnering with Extension and Food Science. BBQ Boot Camp is a statewide educational program that brings a new and exciting aspect into all areas/demographics of the state of North Dakota.
This educational short course program was designed to introduce new and existing methods and practices of cooking to the general public while educating on current agriculture industry topics and important consumer information such as food safety. We have identified through research, extension, and educational efforts that these are areas with needed improvement in consumer education.
The BBQ Boot Camp mission is to convey a positive image of agriculture while teaching consumers honest valuable information about their food, where it comes from, and how to cook it using grilling techniques and methods. Grilling is a popular cooking method, especially in the summer months, although some people grill year-round.
BBQ Boot Camp has also given future industry professionals (undergraduate and graduate students) the opportunity to interact with consumers and educate them about their food.
“BBQ Boot Camp, conducted by the NDSU Animal Science Department through Extension has done a fantastic job in regards to outreach on behalf of NDSU across the state, by directly reaching consumers and educating them on popular grilling techniques, food safety, nutrition, and promoting a major part of North Dakota agriculture, the Livestock industry” wrote a N.D. industry stakeholder to the Dean of Agriculture at NDSU.
BBQ Boot Camp addresses all aspects of food handling in combination with agriculture education and meat/animal science. The program consists of four stations: meat cut selection/degrees of doneness, grill selection/grilling techniques/meat nutrition, barbequing practices/industry topics, and rubs, spices, marinades. Food safety is a key component taught throughout the four stations. Meat degrees of doneness and cut selection focus on middle meat cookery and aspects to look for when purchasing meat. Grill selection/grilling techniques/meat nutrition are food for thought, but teach consumers how to get started cooking. Barbequing and meat/livestock industry topics cover time, temperature, humidity, and smoking as well as industry facts. Rubs, spices, and marinades give the scientific facts to enhancing the flavor of meat as well as discuss NDSU Animal/Meat Science curriculum and education.
A meat thermometer is a critical tool in both the degree of doneness and food safety aspects. The program also emphasizes use of thermometers therefore increasing the number of people using them. In a follow up survey sent to program participants, 80% of attendees indicated that they use a thermometer more often when cooking meat after attending the BBQ Boot Camp.
Over the course of four years we have been able to collect data on 3,051 consumers that have participated in the program. We estimate that 6,000 + consumers have heard our “story” since the inception of the program in 2008. The NDSU BBQ Boot Camp has consistently received great reviews receiving a 4.7 on 5 point scale from program attendees. Many participants have said that after attending BBQ Boot Camp their perception of the U.S. meat and livestock industry changed because they “didn’t realize the level of commitment the entire industry has to ensure products meet quality and safety standards.”