Kids Learn Magic of Agriculture

Linda Benedict, Tobie Blanchard  | 10/19/2015 12:27:28 AM

Photo taken at AgMagic by Bruce Schultz. Click for downloadable image.

Photo taken at AgMagic by Bruce Schultz. Click for downloadable image.

Michael Stout, professor in entomology at the LSU AgCenter, shows a cockroach to children gathered at AgMagic. (Photo by Bruce Schultz)

AgMagic, the LSU AgCenter’s interactive exhibit about Louisiana agriculture, returns to Parker Coliseum on LSU’s campus for its 10th year April 22-28, 2012. School groups are scheduled April 22-26, and the free event is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28.

“AgMagic is designed to help visitors see the connection between what farmers and ranchers produce and the food in the grocery store, the clothes we wear and the wood products in our everyday lives,” said Frankie Gould, LSU AgCenter communications director.

The Journey

AgMagic is divided into eight sections that focus on different aspects of agriculture in Louisiana. Each section has educational and interactive components that will attract children’s attention and teach them something valuable.

– "Animals Produce for You" includes chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, dairy cattle, beef cattle and horses. It will give participants a chance to see what animals eat and the products they provide. Children also will have an opportunity to see eggs hatch into chicks in the incubator.

– "Plant Products" will provide a look at how agronomic crops and vegetables are grown. Educational information will allow visitors to learn about the origin of products they consume, such as seeing that ketchup comes from tomatoes. Visitors also will have an opportunity to dig for earthworms or root crops and pick “fruit from trees.” The “plant doctor” will be on hand, as well, because plants get sick, too.

– "Farming the Waters" will feature catfish, crawfish, alligators, turtles and ornamental fish, such as koi. Viewing stations will allow visitors to see both habitats and products, and visitors will learn about aquaculture and how aquatic life is "farmed."

– The "World of Wonder" will focus on forests, forest products and wildlife. Visitors can make a leaf stamp picture and learn about the native trees of Louisiana. The exhibit will illustrate the abundance of natural resources found in Louisiana and offer an opportunity for a “walk through the forest.” Visitors will learn that the forest products industry is the largest agricultural segment in Louisiana. This exhibit will include a chance for viewing the root system of a tree and visiting with Smokey Bear.

– The Louisiana 4-H section will highlight the youth development program and its learn-by-doing philosophy. Young people can learn about ATV safety and Louisiana’s wetlands. Louisiana 4-H is an educational program of the LSU AgCenter designed to help young people develop leadership, citizenship and life skills.

– The popular “Bugs Rule” area will demonstrate the role insects play in agriculture and the environment. It includes magnifying lenses to allow participants to view bugs up close and a greenhouse filled with plants and butterflies. Young people can see a giant mosquito, hissing cockroaches and other interesting specimens. It’s also the place where kids will be invited to do insect rubbings.

– “Farm Gate to Dinner Plate” will introduce children to food science and and provide an opportunity to build a “pizza” using Louisiana-grown products. Again this year, AgMagic will allow visitors to take a walk through the produce section of a “grocery store,” compliments of Rouse’s Supermarket, to see how fruits and vegetables from the farm wind up on store shelves.

– The "Body Walk," an interactive educational exhibit designed to combat childhood obesity, will be available in the 4-H Mini Farm adjacent to Parker Coliseum. Sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation, it is part of the overall program know as Smart Bodies.

AgMagic is in its 10th year. LSU AgCenter offers similar events around the state, including AgMagic at the State Fair of Louisiana in Shreveport. Ag Alley is held in conjunction with the Ag Expo in Monroe. That event is designed to teach children about where their food comes from and introduces them to Louisiana’s agribusiness industry. The exhibit and tour combine several “alleys” filled with information such as horticulture, crops, livestock and horses. The message at Ag Alley helps to reinforce science lessons the children learn in their classrooms. Students in other parts of the state can go on an adventure with the program Ag Adventures. This event also offers an opportunity for students to see and pet animals, learn about wildlife and develop an appreciation for agriculture. Many parishes offer an Ag Day where children can gain a better understanding of Louisiana agriculture.

The LSU AgCenter reaches around 20,000 students each year with these types of educational programs.

Tobie Blanchard

The LSU AgCenter is one of 10 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research that contributes to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, protecting the environment, and improving the quality of life through its 4-H youth, family and community programs.
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