Formed by a partnership between Utah State University, 4-H, Future Farmers of America and the Washington County Farm Bureau, the main goal of Farm Field Days is to enhance children’s appreciation and understanding of agriculture while having fun. The program was created 17 years ago to address concerns that youth throughout Utah knew very little about farming.
“Many people, both adults and kids, think that they just go to the grocery store and get their food,” said WCFB President Colette Wadsworth. “They need to know where (it) comes from.”
Only fourth graders participate, as the curriculum is best suited for that age. In addition to the lessons presented during the field trip, schools are also provided with follow-up materials to test students’ retention.
Farm Field Days is currently managed by Paul Hill, an extension professor with Utah State University. Every October, Hill faces the monumental task of coordinating 80-plus classrooms from dozens of schools and some 100 staff members to keep everything running smoothly.
“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” he said.
This year’s event was held Oct. 9-11 at Staheli Family Farm, one of few fully operational farms remaining in Washington County. Students, teachers and parent/chaperones were bussed in by the dozens each morning.
Essentially a crash course on farming, the 90-minute field trip was packed with hands-on learning and entertainment. The students were taken on a tour of the farm, stopping for a 10-minute presentation the following topics:
1. Making a pizza
Students learned how the common ingredients of a pizza are grown, a process that takes anywhere from two to five years.
2. Basic agriculture
Students learned about the planting, growing and harvesting processes of various crops.
The 4-H state ambassador, Shelby Condie, demonstrated how sheep are sheared and what products come from their wool. Students also learned the numerous byproducts of cows and the importance of nutrients found in beef and dairy.
Students learned the process of pollenation and the contributions bees make to the life cycle of a farm. Safety around bees was also discussed.
Students learned what weeds are harmful to crops, as well as how weeds from around the globe have found their way to the United States.
Students were taught an appreciation for land and water and the importance of caring for both to preserve nature’s balance.
Kristi Humphries, who attended the event with her 10-year-old son Kaden, was impressed by the thoroughness of the lessons and the clarity of the information presented.
“They learned about how food grows and how important farms and farmers are,” she said. “It was actually educational for me too.”
Farm Field Days 2012 Statistics
Finally catching his breath after a whirlwind three days, Hill said that he was extremely pleased by the turnout and the students’ overall eagerness to learn. He would be thrilled if any are inspired to join the farming industry, but accepts their understanding and appreciation of their food supply as a job well done.
Hill also encouraged people of all ages to learn more about agriculture and how it affects them on a daily basis.
“You can talk about it all you want in the classroom, but to appreciate farming, you have to come out and experience it,” he said. “It’s worth an hour or two of your time to visit a place like Staheli. We all eat and we all need to understand where it comes from.”
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