Friday the 13th wasn’t unlucky for Greenup County fourth-graders.
Greenup’s annual Agriculture Day was a fun, learning experience.
Lisa Osborne of Kentucky Farm Bureau said that the purpose of AG Day is to raise awareness in younger people of all the many things connected with agriculture and farming.
“We cover the different grains, how to milk a cow and we even have a miniature donkey this year, which is something we haven’t had before,” Osborne says, touching on just a few of the 19 stations set up for the students to learn in a fun, engaging atmosphere. “And we have ‘Greenup Gertie’ here today for the kids to milk.”
Greenup Gertie is the lifelike replica cow that was added last year, and “she” helped the students learn the proper way to milk a cow, as well as being a reminder of exactly where milk comes from before it reaches grocer’s shelves.
And that really is the aim of AG Day; teaching young people about the processes that farmers go through in order to bring food products to the public. That and teaching them to recognize what goes into the food that is on their plate, Osborne said.
“Fourth grade seems to be a good age to begin teaching the kids all about farm life,” she said. “Every year is a new fourth-grade class, so it’s like we are educating the entire community about farming and agriculture.”
Brandon Miller of Load, who ran the tractor safety station with Tim Osborne, agreed.
“These kids are sharp,” he said. “They pay attention and remember what you tell them. People still remember things 10 years from now that they learned at AG Day.”
Miller explained the importance of the combination of safety belts and the upper framework (roll cages) that are standard equipment on all newer tractors.
“Always wear your safety belt,” he told the students. “The other safety equipment doesn’t work without it.” Students are also taught to obey the warnings on equipment, and to make sure any labels are visible and not removed.
The stations for AG Day were set up at the Greenup County Fairgrounds, and included a hay maze set up by Harold Rice and Steve Coldiron, a veterinary station where Dr. Ursula Nance spoke to the students about caring for animals, and Marvin Brown, who spoke to them about horses at his station. Grains, My Plate and Water Safety were among the other stations, and students were able to learn about the economics of Agriculture from Scott Christmas and Bryan Alvey of Farm Bureau.
“We are hoping to introduce some fourth graders to life on the farm, and what farmer’s do for us,” Elizabeth Mann said of the day. Mann and her husband John, who is a board member, are both active with Farm Bureau. “I think that in the beginning so many of the students don’t realize how many things are products of farms.”
Mann operates the poster and essay contest station, and said that it is a way for Farm Bureau to truly see what the students are learning and retaining, as well as the things that they personally enjoyed.
“The students are very creative,” she said. “And with the contest they get to use that creativity with pictures, and writing. And we get the knowledge of what we did right or wrong in their eyes.”
Farm Bureau chooses a winner from each school represented at AG Day, and the winners (and parents) are invited to the director’s meeting where they receive dinner and trophies.
AG Day is an all- around enjoyable day for students who get a break from the daily academics while still experiencing a fun learning environment. Hayrides, horticulture, chickens and bees are brought together with nutrition, safety and a view of the workings of agriculture in government.
Typically all of the things that affect a farmer’s life and livelihood on a regular basis are opened up for the students to experience while learning self-reliance, responsibility and an awareness of the effect farmers have on everyone’s lives.
George Heineman, who operated the ATV station, said the students pay attention and retain a lot of what he covers. About 90 percent of the students he speaks to already have experience riding ATV’s, so the interest is there.
“We try to make them aware of both the pros and cons of ATVs. If they remember just a few things that help keep them safe, and operate the equipment responsibly, then I’m happy. “