Karol Osborne | 2/23/2018 5:32:06 PM
(02/23/18) DELHI, La. — Schoolchildren from across northeast Louisiana stepped out of the classroom to get an up-close look at agriculture at the LSU AgCenter Ag Adventures on Feb. 20 to 21 at the Delhi Civic Center.
“Any kind of hands-on experience outside the classroom that enhances real-world knowledge is very helpful,” said Nichole Crim, a third-grade teacher at Beekman Charter School in Morehouse Parish.
The two-day event drew more than 900 students and teachers and featured four educational stations focused on cotton, horticulture, food safety and animal science.
Each station linked common food and fiber products to Louisiana agriculture and emphasized connections to science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) lessons.
“Despite living in predominantly rural communities, many of our youth in the region lack a fundamental knowledge of agriculture and the important role it plays in every aspect of our daily lives,” Tara Smith, director of the AgCenter Northeast Region.
This year school groups took part in a new food safety exhibit that used open-and-close panels to teach best food safety practices in the home kitchen, she said.
“When students are engaged in interactive learning experiences, agriculture becomes more real to them,” said Terri Crawford AgCenter 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences Regional Coordinator.
Students could open a pantry, refrigerator or freezer panel and actually see how foods should be safely stored in those locations in the kitchen, Crawford said.
Another activity at the food safety station had children simulate the spread of germs using a special lotion that glows under ultraviolet light.
“Seeing their little faces light up when they put their hands under the light was really cool,” Crim said.
Students visiting the cotton station learned about value-added products and followed cotton production from seed to the consumer.
“I learned that money is actually made out of cotton,” said Camille deGravelle, a second-grader at Grace Episcopal School in Monroe.
Judy Riley, deGravelle’s teacher, said her students were exposed to new knowledge about products they use each day, and the activities fit with her classroom reading and social studies projects as well as STEAM lessons.
Students learned about seed germination, gardening and pollinator health at the horticulture station which featured a virtual garden bed, a variety of real fruits and vegetables, and a larger-than-life flower model.
“My students will now be able to pull from prior knowledge when they study their upcoming plant unit,” said Cassidy Eaves, a second-grade teacher at Lakeshore Elementary in Monroe.
Tensas Academy third-grade teacher Ginny Tucker said many of the activities have applications she plans to use in her classroom.
“We just finished studying plants, so this was a good reinforcement,” Tucker said, adding that she plans to pull in other student experiences when they begin their animal unit.
Tensas Academy third-grader Mary Briley Rushing said she lives in the country, but not on a farm, and she doesn’t have animals. She said she enjoyed seeing the goats and wants to one day be a veterinarian.
Always a crowd favorite, the mini-farm showcased large and small animals, including a beef cow, a goat, chickens and rabbits, and two stations targeting dairy production.
Presentations focused on how animals are used for meat, milk and fiber. Students learned about different breeds and terms used in animal care and management.
Children could simulate milking a cow with Louella, a wooden model of a dairy cow, and work together to make homemade butter.
“Homemade butter is sweeter and creamier than the store-bought kind,” said Aarav Reddy, a Grace Episcopal School second-grader.
Ag Adventures is an annual event sponsored by the LSU AgCenter. Schools are contacted in late fall to begin registration and are selected on a first-come, first-served basis.
Students get hands-on experience with animals in the mini farm at the LSU AgCenter Ag Adventures held Feb. 20 to 21 at the Delhi Civic Center. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter