Students learn origin of food at Ag Day

Johnny Morgan, Roussel, Tara, Guidry, Kenneth J.

Lauren Bourgeois and her team of volunteers from Nucor Steel in Convent show students how to make fruity play dough during Ag Day in St. James Parish on Oct. 15. The lesson is to teach the children about wheat and corn. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

Victoria Rocquin, right, an 11th-grade home-schooled student, shows third- and fourth-grade students how to make cookies without using an oven at Ag Day in St. James Parish on October 15. Ag Day helps students learn where their food, clothes and shelter come from. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

“If you can’t eat ‘em, then ride ‘em.” That was this student’s recommendation to his classmates at Ag Day in St. James Parish on Oct. 15. The event teaches second- and third-grade students the importance of agriculture and lets them know where their food, clothes and shelter come from. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

News Release Distributed 10/22/15

GRAMERCY, La. – Over 800 St. James Parish students attended the St. James Parish Ag Day on Oct. 15 to learn where their favorite foods come from and to get up close and personal with animals, said LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Tara Roussel.

The Ag Day event gives the students of the parish an opportunity to experience hands-on activities, which will help to educate them on the importance of agriculture in their daily lives.

“Ag Day is funded by grants provided to the Fast Food Farm,” Roussel said. “This year we have a number of businesses and industries who are providing volunteers to help us make it a success.”

The goal for the event is twofold, according to Roussel. “First, we want to teach the kids where their food comes from because some of them believe it comes from the grocery store,” she said. “We also are teaching leadership skills to students in seventh through 12th grade, who are actually leading these activities – being peer teachers.”

Telisha Stark, a Gramercy third-grade teacher, said going to the different activity stations helps the students better understand the concepts they are learning in class.

“In third grade they touch on a lot of the things they see here like, MyPlate and the water cycle,” Stark said. “This is great because they get to make crafts and take a lot of things home, like seeds to plant.”

It would be very difficult to have the event without the help of the many community volunteers who make Ag Day a success, Roussel said.

Lauren Bourgeois and her volunteers from Nucor Steel in Convent showed students how to make fruity Play-Doh with corn oil, Kool-Aid, flour, salt and water.

“Our lesson is to teach children about wheat and corn,” she said. “The wheat is represented by the flour, and the corn by the corn oil that we use.”

Bourgeois didn’t recommend the students eat the fruity play dough, though they loved the smell. She said it was not toxic if they did sneak a taste.

The lack of agricultural knowledge on the part of the parish children spurred the beginning of this annual event, said AgCenter agent Kenneth Guidry from St. James Parish.

The event is coordinated by the Fast Food Farm, St. James Parish 4-H, St. James Parish FFA, New River Soil Water Conservation District, LSU AgCenter and East St. James Parish Ag in the Class.

Two Ag Days are held each year, Guidry said. “The fall event is held for second- and third-grade students, and another will be held in the spring for third- and fourth-grade students.

“We have various stations set up at our Fast Food Farm to show the students how their food gets from the farm to their table,” Guidry said.

At the stations, high school 4-H Club and FFA members served as teachers to show the younger children the different animals and tell about some of the things that happen on the farm.

The Fast Food Farm is land donated by the family of Denise Hymel, executive director of the Fast Food Farm, to provide this educational opportunity for the students in the parish, Guidry said.

More than 10 years ago, industry leaders, school personnel and LSU AgCenter staff in the parish decided to design a daylong, annual event to show students where their food comes from, he said.

“We have the 4-H and FFA members from around the parish come out ahead of time to learn about what they will be teaching at their station,” Guidry said.

Johnny Morgan

10/22/2015 11:46:14 PM
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