Farming out life lessons to children and parents

Three-year old Keegan Dryden of West Union was all smiles when he got his chance to handle the “big” machinery at Kindergarten Ag Day

Kindergarten Ag Day at the fairgrounds – 

Story and photos by Patricia Beech – 

Hundreds of children and their families descended on the Adams County Fairgrounds on Tuesday, May 2 for the annual Kindergarten Ag Day, sponsored by the Career and Technical Center’s FFA chapter.
Kindergarten, Pre-School, and Head Start students from across the county schools participated in the event.
“The reason we do this is to promote agriculture and to help young people realize where their food comes from,” said Luke Rhonemus, FFA Advisor at the CTC. “We want them to understand why agriculture is important in Adams County and across the United States.”

One of the many games and activities provided by the organizers of Kindergarten Ag Day was this exciting sack race.

Jordan Crum, a representative from the Adams County Fair Queen’s Court said she believes exposing children to agriculture and agricultural organizations can have a positive effect on their future choices.
“Some of the kids don’t know anything at all about agriculture, but when they come here they get to see a lot of new and different things,” said Crum. “I think the experience will broaden their horizons, and they’ll see as they grow older the different opportunities organizations like FFA and 4-H offer.”
Sarah McFarland, first runner-up in the Queen’s Court, agreed, “Today we’ve talked to the kids about our local commodities, and we’ve been telling them about 4-H and encouraging them to join as third-graders because it really does help build character.”

Carolyn Belczyk, right, from the Adams County 4-H program, talks to the students at Kindergarten Ag Day about planting seeds.

Children attending the event had the opportunity to pet and learn about cows, pigs, rabbits, goats, chickens, sheep, and even snakes. There was also a full slate of fun games and activities – including a turn sitting in the driver’s seat of a mammoth John Deere combine – which six-year old Walker Newman called “the best thing ever”.
In addition to the fun and games, Kindergarten Ag Day effectively dispels childhood ignorance about where food comes from by challenging childrens’ mistaken beliefs – for instance, that milk comes from bottles and that bread comes from a package – something even those from rural areas struggle with.
“Many of our children are experiencing farm animals and farm machinery for the first time and they are amazed by the size, the smell, and the way they feel,” said Peebles teacher Jonelle Arnold. “They’re learning about the products we get from each of the animals, and it’s very educational for the kids to understand these connections.”
Hands-on visits like those provided by Ag Day also fit in with many areas of the national education curriculum including literacy, science, art, technology, history, geography, PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education), citizenship, and more.
“Kids at this age really soak it up,” said Arnold. “It’s a great learning experience for them.”