Third-graders attend 20th ‘Ag Day’
Sept. 14, 2017
MANTI—Close to 450 Sanpete County third graders from throughout the county descended on the fairgrounds last Wednesday, Sept. 6, for Sanpete County Agricultural Field Day.
It’s the 20th year for the annual event, where local students learn how much their day-to-day lives are impacted by the industry. Organizer Cindy Yardley estimates that more than 9,000 students have attended Ag Day in the past 20 years.
Ag Field Day started when Yardley, who was a member of the Sanpete County Farm Bureau board and also involved with Young Farmers of America at the time, starting doing presentations in schools and discovered that many local kids knew little about agriculture.
“I was a little alarmed at some of the comments from the kids,” she said. “You just take for granted that kids who live in a rural county like Sanpete understand their connection to agriculture, but it just wasn’t so.”
Yardley began talking to people she knew who had knowledge in various aspects of agriculture, and the idea to hold a yearly Ag Day for elementary-aged students was born.
“We needed something so kids could feel this connection and understand why agriculture is so important to them. A lot of time people think if they don’t live on a farm, they have no connection to agriculture, but everything from the food they eat, to the clothing they wear, to the timber for their house comes from some form of agriculture,” Yardley says.
Each year the program follows a similar format. As the students arrive, they don aprons and pick up baskets. Then they spend time at various stations set up in fairground buildings learning about different aspects of agriculture in their lives. Along the way the kids “harvest” various items such as eggs and produce. At the end, they turn their baskets in for a treat.
The interactive presentations at seven stations cover sheep, beef, turkeys, dairy, seeds, the importance of agriculture and farm safety. The youngsters also get to participate in the Fun-on-the-Farm models and activities developed several years ago by a local farm family.
At each station, farmers and ranchers who have in-depth knowledge of their subjects instruct the students. Yardley says the kids especially love the sheep presentation where they get to see sheep sheared.
In honor of the 20th anniversary, Yardley invited Denise Stewardson, director of the Utah State University Agriculture-in-the-Classroom program, to meet with third grade teachers and share her curriculum and hands-on activities.
For the special anniversaries, the organizing committee likes to give each classroom an agriculture-related book. This year, each teacher received “Who Grew My Soup.”
Yardley says she and her committee have tremendous support from the local schools. FFA students from Gunnison Valley High School, Manti High School and North Sanpete High School help set up the event and work as guides. She had high praise for the presenters, several of whom have been with Ag Day since the beginning.
Matt Palmer, director of USU Extension in Sanpete County, said the extension service has been involved with Ag Day since the beginning.
“It’s a great partnership. It’s a great program and not just for Sanpete County,” he said. “These youth will be making policies and decisions into the future. It’s important to work together to teach youth who will become our leaders in the future.”
Yardley says her organizing group began planning for next year’s Ag Day before this year’s was even over.