Pre-K and first grade students learned about healthful foods and where they come from during Ag Day at the Fast Food Farm in St. James Parish, La., on April 12.
At the various booths, the students were able to not only see where their food comes from but also get hands-on experience with planting seeds and identifying fruits and vegetables.
Two Ag Days are held each year, said LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Ken Guidry.
“The fall event is held for second and third grade students, and the second event is held in the spring for pre-K through first grade students,” he said. “Since some changes have been made in the schools this year, we no longer bring the fourth graders in the fall.”
Guidry said he feels this change will be an asset to the program because the earlier the students are exposed to agriculture, the greater the chances are of them retaining the information.
“We’ve also found that having the younger students come to Ag Day creates an interest, and they want to come back to learn more,” he said. “At this age, they also share more with their parents and adults, and this tend to keep them interested.”
Denise Hymel, executive director of the Fast Food Farm, said this is the 14th year the interactive program has been held to help educate students on the importance of agriculture.
“Ag Day gives the students of the parish the opportunity to experience interactive activities at more than 30 booths, which will help them to learn about the importance of agriculture in their daily lives,” she said.
Jackie McCreary, public affairs manager for Mosaic of Louisiana, said this event teaches a lot of farm-to-table lessons for the students of St. James Parish.
“It’s just so exciting to watch the kids light up when they get to see the pig and the see the chickens, and they get to pet the animals,” she said.
Children hear everything from watershed lessons to crop nutrients to how honeybees make honey, she said.
Mindy Dufrene, a first grade teacher at Paulina Elementary School, said this was a great opportunity for her students because some of them had never seen a real baby chick or goat.
“This is really cool for them because they get to experience agriculture in a way that they can’t in the classroom,” she said. “Seeing the live animals was really exciting for them, but I think they’ve been very excited about everything they’ve been able to make, like the seed necklaces and popping popcorn right off the cob.”
Dezirae Morris, a ninth grader at St. James High School in Vacherie, said it is fun helping the younger kids as a 4-H volunteer.
“What we’re doing today is showing the kids foods that are healthy for them and some of the best foods to put in their lunchboxes,” she said.
Ag Day is a collaborative effort of the Fast Food Farm board of directors, corporate sponsor Mosaic Louisiana operations, the St. James Public School System, the St. James Extension Service, 4-H clubs of St. James Parish, ProStart and agriculture classes at the Career and Technology Center, and other local businesses and industry partners.