AgMagic hosts school classes at State Fair of Louisiana

Karol Osborne  |  11/8/2018 3:23:32 PM

(11/08/18) SHREVEPORT, La. — School children made their way through interactive exhibits featured at the LSU AgCenter AgMagic school days held Nov. 1-2 and 8-9 at the 2018 State Fair of Louisiana.

Four days each year are dedicated for school-sponsored field trips where youth learn about agriculture and related topics designed to enhance classroom educational experiences.

“We focus on having as many hands-on activities as possible so children will have fun while gaining an increased awareness of agriculture and its importance to the economy of the state,” said AgCenter 4-H regional coordinator Karen Martin.

Led by AgCenter experts and volunteers, eight featured exhibits offer exciting activities which simulate real-world learning experiences that children can relate to in their daily lives, said AgCenter 4-H agent Katherine Pace.

Westwood Elementary teacher Rachel Moore said the activities align directly with the school curriculum and connect with lessons used in their school garden.

“It hits every grade and every curriculum, especially science, which is a critical part of our state testing,” she said.

Moore said her students were exposed to many life skill lessons at AgMagic and enjoyed the kinesthetic activities.

At the Food Systems Feed the World station, students follow food crops from field production through processing and transportation, learning how foods get from farm to market and to their family table.

“These students don’t know where food comes from. They think it goes from the garden to the store,” she said, adding that the exhibit explored the steps in the process, even to food waste.

AgCenter Northwest Region director Patrick Colyer said finding innovative ways to increase agriculture production is critical as the population continues to grow and worldwide demand for food and fiber increases.

“Part of our role in the AgCenter is to inform and educate the public about where food comes from, and this event is especially for the youth,” he said.

Each AgMagic station offers an educational presentation or demonstration and hands-on games to engage students in active learning.

Young visitors learned about crop production and the science behind popcorn in the crop corner and talked about gardening in hydroponic systems and raised beds at the horticulture stop.

AgCenter 4-H agent Molly Usrey said students learn about how animals are used for food and fiber production at the mini farm, and she answered many questions about species identification, feeding and care.

“They love the bunnies because they are small and furry and nonthreatening, while the sheep weighs almost 300 pounds, and some are a little afraid of her at first,” she said.

Sun City Elementary School third-grade teacher Lorrie Sussdorf said her students asked a lot of higher-level thinking questions and were able to draw on background knowledge to make important classroom connections.

In the wildlife and forestry center, she said, they discussed and compared the difference between a fur and a hide, a concept they had covered in a social studies unit on Native American history.

At the bugs rule exhibit, presenters talked about the life cycle of a mosquito, reviewed safety tips and demonstrated how to change the surface tension of water to sink mosquito eggs and control insect population growth.

Third-grader Grace Peerman described what she learned: “If you add soap to the water where the mama mosquitoes are laying their eggs, it can kill the eggs and separate the eggs, so they will die.”

Peerman also remembered the four parts of the 4-H motto — head, heart, hands and health — from taking part in some of the AgMagic games and said she is looking forward to joining her school 4-H Club next year.

“By touching and listening, the kids learn more than by just walking around and looking,” said La’Dareon Cox, Red River High School senior 4-H’er who served as a teen volunteer tour guide.

About 150 teen 4-H leaders assist with AgMagic as station presenters and tour guides and help lead 4-H games and line dancing as groups entered the exhibit hall.

Quitman 4-H Club leader Karie Potts wanted to give her club members a broader agricultural experience and encourage greater group involvement.

Ag Magic is sponsored each year by the LSU AgCenter, the Louisiana Master Gardeners and the State Fair of Louisiana with donations from ALTEC, Alta and John Franks Foundation, Gibsland Bank and Trust, Caddo and DeSoto Parish Farm Bureau and Brookeshire’s.

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LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Molly Usrey supervises the AgMagic at State Fair mini farm so children like third-grader Grace Peerman can get a firsthand look at farm animals and learn more about their care and agricultural value. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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Third-grader Serenity Baisey selects food items for her grocery cart in a simulated market experience, an interactive part of the Food Systems Feed the World exhibit at LSU AgCenter AgMagic at the State Fair of Louisiana. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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Students sample freshly popped popcorn while learning about the science behind the “pop” at the Crop Corner, an LSU AgCenter AgMagic exhibit featuring a combine simulator and soybean, corn and cotton crops. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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