Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

April 11, 2014

Ag Day planting seeds for future success

By Amanda Browning Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG – The chill in the air didn’t stop the fourth grade students of Decatur County from enjoying the 21st annual Ag Day Fair at the Decatur County Fairgrounds on Tuesday.

More than 400 students, teachers and chaperones arrived at the fairgrounds in the early morning of April 8, prepared to learn about many aspects of the agriculture industry in Decatur County. The fourth grade classes of Greensburg Elementary, North and South Decatur Elementary, St. Mary’s and Good Shepherd Christian Academy represented their schools at the Ag Day Fair. Students were split into groups before they began rotating between 21 different stations, each teaching a different lesson related to agriculture.

According to Ag Day Coordinator Patty Reding, approximately 70 volunteers came together to create exhibits and lessons for the students, ranging from natural resource conservation and first aid to dairy cows and honey bees. FFA members from Greensburg, North and South Decatur High Schools assisted with the fair, acting as exhibit educators and group guides.

“So many people choose to come back and participate year after year. That’s a very positive message that this program has value,” Reding said.

Each lesson was 12 minutes long and educators faced the challenge of packing as much meaningful, informative information as possible into a very limited time period. When one considers the average attention span of a typical fourth grader and the fact that each group had between 15 and 17 children, each presenter is to be commended for taking on the daunting task. Reding extended a special thanks to all volunteers, educators and teachers who worked so hard to make the Ag Day Fair a reality.

“In my opinion, it’s a two-fold opportunity,” Reding told the Daily News. “One is an opportunity for the experts involved in agriculture and safety to showcase Decatur County agriculture. They are very proud of what they do and they should be.”

The Ag Day Fair doesn’t just benefit the exhibitors though. It teaches the youth of the county lessons about the bustling agriculture industry that surrounds them every day and has a massive influence on their daily lives, whether they are aware of it or not.

“Ag Day allows the experts to get that information to the students and allows the students to learn about the products they use, the people they see, how it related to agriculture in Decatur County and to appreciate the impact it has on their lives,” Reding said. “These are local people teaching our local students. That has value and separates Ag Day from many of the other field trips they take.”

Many of the stations taught lessons about specific animals, such as emus, goats or sheep. At some stations, the students were even able to hold or pet the object of their instruction. The baby chick exhibit seemed to be very popular amongst the fourth graders, as were the rabbits and the three-day-old piglets, which each group was given the chance to nickname. Some students timidly approached a show cow to pet it at the beef production station, while others showed no hesitation and greeted the animal with a smile.

Among the many lessons students learned throughout the day were: how long you can safely drink milk after the expiration date (10 days); how much a cow eats per day (25 pounds); the many uses for emu oil; how much a newborn piglet weighs (two pounds); what an automatic defibrillator does and the fact that when a honeybee stings, it gives off a “sting here” pheromone that attracts the rest of the swarm.

The annual Ag Day Fair is coordinated by Decatur County’s Farm Bureau Insurance Inc., as a way to give students an opportunity to learn about the agricultural industry and its importance from those who know it best, the experts of Decatur County. Some experts represented individual farms, such as the owners of Armand’s Harper Valley Farms and some were students representing the knowledge they’ve gained as members of 4H and the FFA, such as Tori Weber, who taught a lesson on hydroponics.

“The reason we are part of Ag Day is Farm Bureau wants to teach young people about agriculture and our food supply since many kids are three to four generations removed from the farm,” said Decatur County Farm Bureau Inc. President Steve Gauck.

Each year, Ag Day Fair organizers hold a design contest for students, with the winner getting his or her design featured on the event t-shirt each student and teacher receives. For only the second time in the 21 year history of the Ag Day Fair, two winners were chosen because their designs complimented each other so well. Payton Richey from Greensburg Elementary and Stephanie Morford from North Decatur Elementary were this year’s winners and t-shirts bearing their combined designs were seen on students and teachers throughout the day.

Among the 21 exhibits students visited, there were two additional recess stations that allowed the children to play some outdoor playground games to burn some extra energy and enjoy one of the few sunny days so far this year.

This year’s Ag Day Fair appears to be a success, planting the seeds for informed thought in the minds of the fourth graders of Decatur County. In a few years, they may be the ones teaching a new generation of fourth graders at Ag Day Fairs in the future.

More photos from this event are available on www.greensburgdailynews.com/photos.

Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004; Amanda.browning@greensburgdailynews.com