Johnny Morgan, Gambel, Elizabeth C.
NEW ORLEANS – The LSU AgCenter will present AgMagic on the River, an interactive, visually stimulating learning experience, at Docville Farm in Violet on May 14-17.
The event is open to school groups, grades 3-5, May 14-16 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and open to the public May 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., said Beth Gambel, LSU AgCenter Orleans Parish 4-H coordinator.
AgMagic is designed to show urban and suburban children and adults that what we eat, what we wear and where we live are all a part of agriculture and natural resources, Gambel said.
AgMagic features a variety of interactive exhibits of plants and crops, live farm animals, wildlife, bugs, fish, forests and food.
“Children will dig for sweet potatoes and worms. They will learn the growth stages of plants, visit a 1,500-gallon aquarium filled with Louisiana specimens, visit a working crawfish pond and learn about coastal restoration,” she said.
Visitors will learn the role of the Mighty Mississippi River relating to agriculture as they view the river from an observation tower, Gambel said. Children also will be invited to make leaf prints, animal tracks and insect rubbings.
This interactive, educational event, the first of its kind in the New Orleans area, is being sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, the Meraux Foundation and other local industries and individuals.
The rationale behind AgMagic is to help young people see the importance of agriculture in their lives. Long gone are the days when children saw cows and pigs in the city of New Orleans, Gambel said.
“We want children in every parish to know where their food and clothing come from,” she said. “We also want them to understand how important Louisiana agriculture is to the state’s economy. And we hope that this experience will open their minds to a career in agriculture.”
During the event, participants will take an interactive journey through eight educational areas:
–Animals Produce for You includes chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, dairy cattle and beef cattle. It allows participants to see what animals eat and the products they provide.
–Farming the Waters features crawfish and other Louisiana products. The viewing stations will allow visitors to see both habitats and products, and visitors will learn how to "farm" aquatic life. Young people can learn about Louisiana’s wetlands.
–Plant Products will show how crops and vegetables are grown. Visitors will learn about the origin of the products they consume, such as ketchup from tomatoes. Visitors can dig for earthworms or root crops and pick “fruit from trees.”
–The World of Wonder will focus on forests, forest products and wildlife. This exhibit offers an opportunity to learn about the abundant natural resources found in Louisiana. Visitors will learn that the forest products industry is the largest agricultural segment in Louisiana and what it takes to protect our environment.
–The Louisiana 4-H section will provide information for the teachers to distribute to their students. This information highlights the youth development program and its “learn by doing” philosophy.
–The Bugs Rule area shows the role insects play in agriculture and in the environment. This section will provide a close-up look at a variety of bugs and plants. Young people will learn about mosquitoes and see mosquitoes as they are hatching. Also, children will see an ant farm.
–The Farm Gate to Dinner Plate area will introduce children to food science. They will have an opportunity to build a “pizza” using Louisiana-grown products.
–Germ Cave, an interactive educational exhibit designed to teach children about germs, shows where they come from and where they hide.
School groups from Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles and St. John parishes are invited to attend. To obtain more information and to schedule a tour of AgMagic on the River, visit the website at www.LSUAgCenter.com/AgMagic or phone 504-658-2900.
Gambel said volunteers are also needed for mornings and afternoons each day during the event.
For information on how to sign up as a volunteer, call Lauren Faust at 504-278-4234 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Docville Farm is located at 5124 E. St Bernard Highway in Violet, just 15 minutes from downtown New Orleans.