Recent Ag Day festivities at Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences School gave students the opportunity to get in touch with their inner farmer.
“Our biggest goal is to expose the kids to the different forms and facets to agriculture,” said Michael Wheeler, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension coordinator for Hall County.
“You’ve got the Cattleman’s Association and the Hall County Master Gardeners, but then you’ve got the Georgia Forestry Commission teaching them about where our wood comes from, replanting, fire and things like that.
“And then of course there’s the animal science people and the dairy. All that fits into agriculture.”
There was a petting zoo, farm equipment to tour and various booths explaining how our food gets from the fields to our tables.
The Ag Day participants broke down sometimes complex topics — like the importance of soil conservation — in terms that were easily understood by the elementary school students.
From the jeans and T-shirts on their bodies to the hamburgers they were planning to eat for lunch, all of those things were made possible by the soil the raw materials were grown in or consumed, Louise McPherson explained.
“If all of that comes from soil, somebody better take care of it,” said McPherson, a soil conservationist with the Hall County Soil and Water Conservation District.
“We have to keep a hat on our soil and some roots in it to hold it together.”
The “hat” McPherson referred to was sod and other plants.
To show the students what would happen if all fields were left void of “hats” she poured water on a pan filled with dirt. The water dripped through it and drained into a clear jar, revealing what could be a hypothetical, muddy drinking water supply.
“Yuck,” one student said, “that’s not soil no more. It’s mud.”
Tabitha Brinson with the Hall County Cattleman’s Association expanded the students’ view of cows.
“You get hamburgers and steaks from them, but did you know some candles come from cows,” Brinson asked one group.
She also informed the students of other products — like chewing gum, shaving cream and crayons — that are created from cow-based materials.
No Ag Day, especially not one in the poultry capital of the world, would be complete without a visit from our feathered friend, the chicken.
Thanks to the University of Georgia Poultry Science Department and the Gainesville-based Georgia Poultry Lab, the students were able to see a complete life cycle from egg to adult.
One group even had the chance to see chicks “pipping,” or breaking out of their eggs. Everyone who was interested had the opportunity to hold a fluffy yellow “baby chicken.”
The students also learned how to rope a calf, care for horses and grow their own plants.
Although Ag Day rotates from year to year between local elementary schools, the event ties in especially well with the charter school’s mission to provide students with “opportunities to explore and develop their multiple intelligences and demonstrate learning in authentic ways.”
To prepare for the event, the students spent class time learning about agriculture. The event gave them a chance to apply their knowledge.
“So many kids aren’t on the farm like they used to be, so this is a really nice way to get them there without having to drag them all over on a school bus,” Wheeler said.
“The farm kind of comes to them in a sense.
“I think they learn a lot more in an environment like this.”