High school students, teachers learn about agriculture at Camp CRISP

(07/02/24) BATON ROUGE, La. — A group of high school students and teachers from Baton Rouge recently wrapped up a two-week camp that had them exploring crop fields, laboratories and research stations alongside LSU AgCenter scientists.

Six students and four teachers from Woodlawn High School, Baton Rouge Magnet High School and Arlington Preparatory Academy participated in the inaugural Camp CRISP from June 17 to 28. The program was part of the Climate Resilient Innovations for Sustainable Production of Rice, or CRISP Rice, grant.

AgCenter researchers working on the grant project are trying to make rice production more sustainable and profitable. They also are promoting career opportunities in agriculture.

“The outreach and education part of the grant is to get more people invested in agriculture,” said Christine Gambino, an AgCenter extension associate who led Camp CRISP and is a member of the grant team. “Our farmer population is getting older. The younger people need to get involved for agriculture to be successful in the future.”

The students and teachers toured various labs and other facilities at LSU as well as the Doyle Chambers Central Research Station, which is just a few minutes away from campus. They also traveled to the Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station near Clinton and twice to the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station near Crowley, spending one day in the field with scientists and another attending the facility’s 115th annual field day.

Throughout their two weeks, campers heard lessons and completed activities on plant physiology, plant pathology, soil health, entomology and economics.

While Gambino hopes to expand the camp next year to include people from other areas of Louisiana, she said it is beneficial for students and teachers from urban areas like Baton Rouge to participate.

“Urban students are not exposed to agriculture as much,” she said. “People in rural areas may pass rice fields all day — but an urban kid may have no idea of the difference between a rice field, a sugarcane field, a soybean field.”

Instilling agriculture awareness in young people can open the door to career paths they may not have considered, she said.

Jessica D’Amico, who teaches Algebra II and a drone course at Woodlawn, enjoyed the camp experience and learned information she wants to incorporate into her lesson plans.

“It definitely ties into the drone class,” D’Amico said. “We’re seeing how technology plays into agriculture, which is not something normally taught in that course. That’s been really great for me — thinking of new ways to teach that class.”

Paul Pittman, a camp participant who recently graduated from Woodlawn, had already been thinking of pursuing a college degree and career in agriculture. While he is interested in becoming a forester, he said he found value in talking with AgCenter scientists who work in other fields of agriculture about their research processes.

Several people standing next to a building sign.

Six students and four teachers from Baton Rouge schools recently participated in Camp CRISP, where they had the chance to learn from LSU AgCenter scientists. Pictured, from left, front row, are Sincere Thomas, Jessica D’Amico, Christine Gambino, Adriana Dimas and Naduni Jayasinghe. Back row, Mike Stout, Samuel Dunn, Megan Hall, Ranie Adams, Paul Pittman, Italia Sterling, Stephen Kampen, Aimee Bourgeois and Prasanta Subudhi. Photo provided by Christine Gambino

Young man working in a laboratory.

Paul Pittman, a Camp CRISP participant who recently graduated from Woodlawn High School, completes a lab activity. Photo provided by Christine Gambino

Three people standing near a drone sitting on ground.

Camp CRISP participants learn about drones. Photo provided by Christine Gambino

Two people standing in a field.

Camp CRISP participants take soil samples. Photo provided by Christine Gambino

Three people looking at a calf.

Camp CRISP participants view cattle. Photo provided by Christine Gambino

7/2/2024 2:00:19 PM
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