On Tuesday, Oct. 24, approximately 900 fourth-graders from Georgia’s Tift and Cook counties will convene on the University of Georgia Tifton campus for this fall's Agricultural and Environmental Awareness Day.
Students will move between stations set up at the event, which will run from 9 a.m. until noon.
Since 2001, the campus has held an event in the spring during which elementary school students learn to plant crops. The students return in the fall to see those crops harvested. Presentations and hands-on demonstrations at these events provide students with modern agricultural knowledge.
Research technician Benjie Baldree established these Agricultural and Environmental Awareness Days. He handed the reins over to Katie Wilson, an administrative associate in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Animal and Dairy Science, three years ago.
“Benjie saw the love I have for this industry when I was a presenter in high school and college,” Wilson said. “My favorite part is seeing the kids light up when you tell them that their clothes are made of cotton or that milk comes from cows.”
At the events, students also learn about the process of turning plants into plastic and other recyclable materials.
“We teach them how to improve the environment,” Wilson said.
They also learn the importance of simple machines in agriculture. Every year there’s an “elephant,” or barrels covered in a gray tarp, that students must figure out how to move as part of a contest. Some students attempt to move the elephant through strength, while others use a simple machine.
Most of the event’s presenters are UGA staff and faculty members, including Lola Sexton, an agricultural research assistant in the college’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. She uses a microgin to demonstrate the process of ginning cotton and teaches students about the plant’s uses in certain products, such as jeans and money. Other presenters include U.S. Department of Agriculture and Georgia Forestry Commission representatives.
Wilson hopes students enjoy their experience and gain a knowledge of and love for agriculture.
“We want to teach them that there are many opportunities in agriculture,” Wilson said.
Julie Jernigan is an intern at UGA-Tifton.