Cynthia Stephens, Smith, Joann, Haynes, Sheila M., Erwin, Terry L., Van Osdell, Mary Ann, Brew, Rafash E., Frazier Jr, Ralph L. | 1/23/2009 11:30:36 PM
WEST MONROE – More than 1,800 first- and fourth-graders attended special showings of the LSU AgCenter’s Ag Alley Jan. 14-15 to learn about farm commodities grown in Louisiana.
The LSU AgCenter coordinates Ag Alley, a combination of several "alleys" with information on horticulture, cotton, livestock and horses that is part of the annual Ag Expo here, said Cynthia Stephens, an LSU AgCenter agent in Ouachita Parish. She said Ag Alley helps children learn where their food and fiber come from as well as learn about agribusiness in Louisiana.
The students were told about the value of agriculture, equipment farmers use, which parishes produce which crops, and how those crops are grown. They also had lessons on good nutrition. The program is designed to reinforce science lessons the children learn in school, Stephens said.
Students came from Ouachita, Caldwell, Morehouse, Union and Winn parishes.
The North Louisiana Agri-Business Council sponsors Ag Expo, an annual event that promotes agribusiness and informs the public about the importance of agriculture.
Joann Smith, LSU AgCenter nutrition educator in Richland Parish, gave a lesson about dairy cows. She said a cow can weigh as much as 1,500 pounds. She told the students cows eat hay and grain and need water. Smith showed the students a variety of dairy products and said they build bones and healthy teeth.
What can you make from a bale of cotton? That was another lesson.
Children learned about such byproducts as cottonseed oil after seeing the growing process, complete with getting to feel lumpy cotton and the fiber that came out of a small gin that separated the seed from the lint.
Terry Erwin, LSU AgCenter extension agent in Morehouse Parish, said cotton is used for fiber.
“It is a warm, natural fiber,” Erwin said. “Cotton is a semitropical to tropical plant.”
He said it is planted in mid-April.
“Louisiana leads the nation in crawfish production,” said R.L. Frazier, LSU AgCenter extension agent in Madison Parish. “Fifty percent are pond raised.”
In the minifarm, children observed cows, pigs, sheep, goats and crawfish and learned what they eat and produce. Children got to pet ducks and learn how to be safe around animals.
In the equine area, the children learned the proper equipment for riding horses.
A puppet show featuring a cow, ram, foal, chicken and rabbit gave character tips – to tell the truth, share, use manners, keep promises and be respectful.
Another puppet show featured “Bac,” short for Bacteria, and taught the children germs are on their backpacks, at school and at home, but they can be washed off. The children also were taught to wash their hands before they eat, after they use the bathroom, after playing with pets and after sneezing.
A garden-in-a-glove demonstrated carrots, pepper and squash planted in a rubber glove that becomes a “greenhouse.” Wet cotton balls were placed in each finger, and a rubber band was wrapped around the wrist.
The horticulture exhibit had blueberry bushes and pear and peach trees. Rafash Brew, LSU AgCenter agent in Union Parish, pointed to an actual garden that featured greens, spinach, broccoli and cabbage. He said those vegetables provide calcium and encouraged the children to eat salad at school.
“From the Farm to Your Pocket” taught that saving money is a great habit.
“Save a little. Spend a little. Share a little,” said Sheila Haynes, LSU AgCenter agent in West Carroll Parish. “You don’t have to spend money to have a bank,” she said, adding that something as simple as a tennis shoe could be used.
Contacts: Cynthia Stephens at (318) 323-2251 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Joann Smith at (318) 728-3216 or email@example.com
Terry Erwin at (318) 281-5741 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rafash Brew at (318) 368-9935 or email@example.com
R.L. Frazier at (318) 574-2465 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheila Haynes at (318) 428-3571 or email@example.com
Writer: Mary Ann Van Osdell at (318) 741-7430, ext. 1104, or firstname.lastname@example.org