A picturesque Tuesday proved to be just the right setting for the 20th annual Ag Day Fair held at the Decatur County fairgrounds.
But the attendees — a group of nearly 400 fourth grade students — appeared far too occupied to pay much attention to the sunshine of what was likely the nicest day of the year thus far.
The students, who represented Greensburg Elementary School, North Decatur Elementary School, South Decatur Elementary School and St. Mary’s, took part in an agriculture-based learning experience unlike any other conducted throughout the county.
Children were divided into groups, then moved station-to-station to learn the ins and outs of farm life, from the pumpkin growing process to the approximate weight of a full-grown boar.
FFA members from all three county high schools presided over many of the stations, several of which gave the students an opportunity to hold the animals about which they were learning.
A pair of two-day-old baby pigs (which were nicknamed “Wilbur” and “Olivia” by one group of students) were passed around and petted by the children at one station, while another saw the kids scoop up baby ducks and chickens.
The children were also given fire safety tips, learned horse and equine safety, sat through a session on bees and the honey-making process, and even learned natural resource conservation. The all-encompassing tour stopped only for lunch and a pair of recess times during which the students played “Duck, Duck, Goose,” “Red Rover,” tag and other playground games.
The strenuous but rewarding work of more than a hundred volunteers, this year’s Ag Day Fair brought out the largest number of students in the event’s two-decade history. Fifteen classes attended the fair, which were divided into 23 groups of approximately 14 to 19 students each.
Students, teachers and organizers all wore the event’s brand new t-shirt, which was designed by North Decatur Elementary School fourth grade student Madelin Hoover. The design featured this year’s Ag Day Fair theme: “For you, we grow it, care for it, deliver it. Farmers!”
Coordinated by Decatur County Farm Bureau, Inc., Tuesday’s event sought to give students an opportunity to learn about the importance of agriculture from those who know it best: the farm experts of Decatur County. Those experts gave 12-minute presentations that taught children who first brought swine to the Americas (Christopher Columbus), the products made from the milk of dairy cows and more about emus than one is likely to learn outside of a National Geographic special.
Organizers were clearly enamored with the enthusiasm displayed by the students, but those working “behind the scenes” were given their appropriate due as well.
Special recognition was given to longtime volunteer Rosemary Schroeder, described as “vibrant” by organizers Sandy Dierckman and Kim Yeager, who helped with food preparation Tuesday.
“We so much appreciate what she does for us every year,” said Decatur County Farm Bureau, Inc.’s Dierckman.
Schroeder’s contribution was undoubtedly appreciated more come lunchtime when many of the students, FFA members and others gathered for a presentation by Lowe’s Pellets and Grain President Alan Lowe, honoring three outstanding local students with a $1,000 scholarship.
The scholarship requires that a student pursue an ag-related field in his or her secondary education. The winner from North Decatur High School was Justin Geis. His counterpart from South Decatur was fellow FFA member Morgan Tomson. The winner from Greensburg is expected to be notified of the scholarship Wednesday, and that individual will be highlighted in the Daily News at a later date.
In other Ag Day Fair happenings, a pair of books were presented to each of the four schools for permanent placement in their respective libraries. One book was centered on corn, while another tackled the topic of soybeans. Collectively, the two tomes donated were part of the “Awesome Ag Book” presentation Tuesday.
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056