Growing Agriculture

Agriculture Education Days provide students with vast amounts of information

September and October are plenty busy for the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Agricultural Research Centers.

Along with the everyday research that takes place at each Center, there were Field Days to be hosted and crops readied for harvest.

Mixed in with that busyness are Agriculture Education Days.

These days are designed to give high school and college students an opportunity to step foot on a farm and learn the ins and outs of the agricultural world.

“These type of opportunities are vital in my opinion,” said Graves-Chapple Research Center Superintendent Jim Crawford. “Most students we see are two generations removed from the family farm. We want to show them that the food they buy doesn’t come from the store.”

Andrea Jones discusses cotton with a group of high school students during the Fisher Delta Research Center Agriculture Education Day.Andrea Jones discusses cotton with a group of high school students during the Fisher Delta Research Center Agriculture Education Day.

Eight Research Centers hosted nearly 7,000 students from 180 schools during the past two months. The Agriculture Education Days give students a look at the many careers in agriculture.

“It is very important for all students to understand the importance of agriculture,” said Kendra Allen, an agriculture teacher at Mexico High School, who brought students to the Bradford Research Center Agriculture Education Day on Sept. 15. “Agriculture is all around us and my students do not realize how many jobs there are in agriculture.”

Bradford hosted nearly 2,000 students from 65 schools at its Education Day.

Each Research Center showcases the research that takes place throughout the year to students. It’s a complete learning experience as presenters highlight safety practices on the farm and give other interesting demonstrations.

“The fistulated cow is always a favorite,” Allen said. “It amazes the students when they stick their hand into a cow.”

The Agriculture Education Days also give students a chance to connect with the University of Missouri.

“Since the Southwest Research Center is so far from the MU campus, our Agriculture Education Day serves not only as an agricultural awareness day, but also as a recruitment tool,” Southwest Superintendent David Cope said. “Our speakers visit with students on a wide variety of topics covering many facets of agriculture. Not only do they cover agriculture careers and new research findings, but also the utilization of new technologies in agriculture.

“We hope the Agriculture Education Day helps to plant a few seeds into their fertile minds about what is possible. We want students to leave with a renewed passion for agriculture.”

The Southwest Research Center had 2,500 students from 49 schools attend its Education Day.

Each Research Center offers a different look. At the Fisher Delta Research Centers, students were able to tour cotton fields and learn about how rich the soil is in the Delta and the Missouri bootheel. At the Thompson Research Center, the focus was on beef and improving production. The Wurdack Research Center offered students a look at timber practices and using agroforestry.

“These events provide, in one day, up to 20 venues that can deliver multiple references as curriculum is taught throughout the year,” said John Poehlmann, assistant director of the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and a former agricultural education teacher. “Books and PowerPoints are great tools but being able to see, touch and smell brings home the lesson better for many like us. Our superintendents and other organizers do a great job of presenting the breadth of careers that can sometimes be the spark in a young mind for their career. It’s a lot of work and I appreciate how invested our Center staffs are in providing this day.”