Coletta Weeda, Crawford County Extension Education Director
Denison Middle School seventh grade teachers started including agriculture in some of their classes several years ago. They approached Crawford County Farm Bureau and Crawford County ISU Extension about helping organize a special day focusing on the importance of agriculture in our community. Even though Crawford County is rural, many of our youth don’t know how agriculture affects them.
Crawford County Extension Director met with Crawford County Farm Bureau member to develop an ag awareness event for the Denison 7th graders (Ag Day). Since we were organizing one day, we decided to offer a second day to the 7th graders in the other schools in Crawford County. By dividing the students into different groups, we could rotate the groups to eight different sessions in the time the school allows. The eight half-hour sessions were beef & pork, dairy, grapes, ATV safety, grain safety, Ag 101, horticulture and corn & soybeans. We allowed 1 hour for lunch which was an “Iowa” lunch of beef or pork burger, apple dippers, carrots, cookie, ice cream and milk. At the end of the day, packets for each student were sent with teachers with more ag information (“Ag Times” magazine, etc.). Teachers were asked to evaluate the day and give us suggestions. Some sessions were not very interactive so the students lost interest.
In the second year, lunch hour was divided into two parts. Half of the students would eat while the other half of students were participating in Ag Olympics (pounding nails, shelling corn and roping a steer head) and viewing tractor and combine. A pre- and post-test have been developed to help with evaluation of the days. Sessions have evolved over the years to try to become more interactive for students. Grape session was replaced with water quality. Ag 101 covers crop production and the corn & soybean session is now more value added oriented. The horticulture session was replaced with soils. A quiz about Iowa Food Companies was added to the student packet for use in the classroom.
Ag Days was first held in 2004 and has been held every year since. Over 1,350 Crawford County youth have been reached during their 7th grade year with agricultural information. Information in the packets to teachers includes more activities to use in the classroom. One comment from a teacher - “It was a worthwhile experience that gave our students a deeper knowledge of agricultural production, safety and history. Although our students are from a rural area, the dynamics of the farm industry is not so apparent.”
Post-tests scores improved over scores on pre-test given before the students attended Ag Day. Before attending Ag Day, 35% of students could name the beef processing plant in Denison (Tyson). After attending, 63% of students could identify the plant. Knowledge about the ability to pull someone from moving grain dramatically improved. Before 75% of youth thought they could pull their friend from moving grain. After seeing and participating with “Tug of War with Grain”, only 2% replied they could save their friend from moving grain.
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October 20, 2008
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