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Ag in the Classroom Provides Education and Fun

story by Dee Ann Littlefield

A local bee keeper taught students how important bees are to pollinating crops in the field.Two-hundred and twenty five fourth graders had a hands-on learning experience at Tommy Henderson’s farm north of Byers, Texas on Wednesday, October 23 for the seventh annual Ag in the Classroom field day. This event shows fourth graders how agriculture affects their lives daily. Students are given first-hand knowledge of the daily activities that happen on a farm and demonstrations show how different commodities are produced.

The students were divided into small groups led by Petrolia FFA members and rotated to eight different stations. The stations included Farm Bureau’s Mobile Learning Barn, a rainfall simulator, farm equipment, a cotton gin, horses, wildlife, a pollinator demonstration, and plant identification. Students learned how and where various commodities are produced which included, wheat, cotton, corn, honey, pork, beef, and sheep and goats.

The miniature cotton gin is always a favorite stop on the tour, along with the Mobile Learning Barn. The students were given lots of facts about how they are affected by agriculture in their everyday life. When told wheat farmers only receive one nickel for each loaf of bread sold, one student remarked, “So that’s why it’s called Pumpernickel bread!”

NRCS District Conservationist explained to the kids how important ground cover is to prevent soil erosion, especially during a rainfall event. Another popular station was the rainfall simulator, manned by the Clay County NRCS staff.

“I think it is vital for us as conservationists to teach kids how to manage, protect, and conserve our resources,” said Kenny Prewitt, NRCS district conservationist. “I was really impressed with the kids – the kids were really interested and left our station wanting to do their part for the environment.”

Presenters for the day included local farmers and ranchers Tommy Henderson and Charlie Henderson; USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel Cordelia Redmon, Dorothy Kucharski and Prewitt; USDA-Farm Service Agency County Director Mike McDonald; retired NRCS district conservationist Jerry Payne; Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist Charlie Newberry; Texas 4-H Horse Ambassadors Mikayla Graham and Skee Burkes; Henrietta FFA members Connor Chambers and Josey Cleveland, as well as Texas Farm Bureau representatives. The morning was wrapped up with a milking demonstration by Todd Griffin of the Southwest Dairy Museum.

Hotdogs were served for lunch to all in attendance. Cooks included Clay County Farm Bureau members L.C. Harrison, Duane Davis, Gary and Mary Maddox.

The event was organized and sponsored by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, with extension agent Missy Hodgins and Texas Farm Bureau with Clay County representative Trey Berend. Agriculture in the Classroom is a program of the American Farm Bureau, dedicated to helping students and teachers across our the nation gain an understanding of how agriculture provides the daily essentials necessary to make our society and our world function.
Fourth Grade students learn how locally grown grain crops are in some of their favorite cereals.4-H Horse Ambassadors Mikayla Graham and Skee Burkes talked to the kid’s about the many roles horses have in agriculture.