Michael Blazier, Coolman, Denise
Louisiana youth are learning about agriculture with help from the LSU AgCenter.
One example was the Forestry and Wildlife Awareness field days held recently at the LSU AgCenter’s Hill Farm Research Station near Homer.
During those events earlier this month (April 22-23), Claiborne Parish 5th graders who attended were taught about a variety of things about the growth and importance of trees – with topics ranging from planting a tree to processing it into lumber.
Dr. Michael Blazier, forestry research project leader at the Hill Farm Research Station, said the youngsters were given the opportunity to visit seven different educational stations, where experts explained various topics such as planting trees, tree insects, measuring trees and wildlife. There was even a real saw to show how to saw a tree into boards.
"The forestry industry is big in Louisiana," Blazier said. "We’re using this (field day) as a way to get the message across to young people about the importance of the industry and how it affects their lives.
"We want to show them the different things involved in running a forestry operation, as well as careers that are available in forestry," he continued, adding, "We also hope they will better understand the wildlife habitat and what they can do to preserve it. This is information they may not have otherwise gotten."
Tandi Curry, a 5th grade student from the Summerfield Elementary School, said she is considering going into a forestry career because she wants "to plant trees and other things." Curry was one of about 250 Claiborne Parish 5th graders who participated in the field days.
"I help my daddy plant trees in our yard all the time," Curry said. "I really like it, and when I get older I want to help provide more wildlife habitats and trees. I can do this if I work in the forestry industry."
The forest industry is a big player in the state’s economy. According to the Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources produced by the LSU AgCenter, the total value of forestry in Louisiana in 2003 was more than $3.7 billion.
The field day at the Hill Farm Station was among the many activities LSU AgCenter faculty members conduct to teach youngsters and adults about the value and the diversity of the state’s agricultural industries.
For example, the LSU AgCenter also is conducting an event dubbed AgMagic in Baton Rouge. That interactive journey through the wonders of agriculture is open to schoolchildren and the public through Thursday (April 29) to help them understand where their food, clothing, lumber and other agriculture-related products come from.
"We want to break the trend where many people think food, clothing and lumber simply come from the store," said Dr. Bill Richardson, chancellor of the LSU AgCenter. "We want to help them learn how those things actually are produced as part of our agricultural industries."
Similar events – including an Ag Alley earlier this year in Monroe and an annual Ag Awareness Day in the New Orleans metro area – also have been conducted in other areas of the state.
To find out more about the state’s diverse agricultural industries and their contributions to Louisiana’s economy, as well as a variety of other topics ranging from family finances to health and nutrition, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.