Agriculture coalition aims to inspire youth
CENTREVILLE — For two days in April, community members active in the world of agriculture will turn the Queen Anne’s County 4-H Park into an informational and educational classroom for middle school students during the Agriculture Awareness Day.
On April 24 and 25, Queen Anne’s County seventh-graders will be bused to the park, near Centreville, for a full day of activities aimed at engaging and inspiring students in the field of agriculture.
“This educational experience has been created by a strong group of agriculture leaders and educators who want to teach our future generation about the diversity of agriculture and the 235 career options,” said Jenell Eck, program coordinator, during the Jan. 24 county commission meeting.
Students from Sudlersville and Centreville middle schools will attend on April 24, and students from Stevensville and Matapeake middle schools will attend on April 25. More than 600 students, plus chaperones and volunteers, are expected to attend the educational opportunity.
Broken into five main sta- tions, middle schoolers will listen to speakers go into detail about the various subjects. The stations are Our Future, Aquaculture, The Green Stuff (nursery, landscaping, produce, forestry, greenhouses and floriculture), Farm Animals and Bees in Agriculture.
Each topic will include either one 50-minute station or two 23-minute stations and has specific topics each will broach. Eck said the programs will be using Next Generation and Environmental Literacy Standards. Students will be given a passport of interactive activities to fill out throughout the day.
Hoping to make this an annual event for seventhgraders, Eck said by the time those students move up a grade they are already planning their high school schedule, “so we want to make sure they know about ag.”
Commissioner Jack Wilson said, after completing a Career and Technical Education tour with fellow commissioners, a major initiative heard was to reach students earlier, such as middle school, to get them involved in agriculture and aware of the various career paths education in that field could yield.
“Agriculture represents one of the biggest economic development activities in the county, and to have a pipeline of educated students coming out of our high schools that not only have an interest but background, start point, to continue on a family farm or work in agriculture, is a good idea,” Commissioner Mark Anderson said.
To help make the event happen, the coalition of agriculture educators and practitioners are seeking donations. Sponsor levels and benefits are as follows: Gold, $1,000 with logo on t-shirts, passport, displayed on QAC-TV and the event’s social media; Silver, $500–$999 with logo in passports, QAC-TV and the event’s social media; Bronze, $100–$499, logo in passports, QAC-TV and the event’s social media.
During the meeting, the commission donated $2,500 to aid with program and transportation costs, matching its donation with the county’s Farm Bureau, President Tom Jackson said.
Checks will be accepted and should be made payable to Queen Anne’s County Farm Bureau, Attn: Agriculture Awareness Day, and should be sent to P.O. Box 459 Centreville, MD 21617.
Members of the Agriculture Awareness Day Board are: Jessica Clarke, John Draper, Eck, Mike Embrey, Nicole Fiorellino, Kim Kempel, Tom Jackson, Chris Johnston, Michael Page, Jenny Rhodes, Sally Rosenberry, Faith Rossing, Donna Smith, Brian Stokes, FFA Officers Jennifer Gannon, Morgan Elburn, Megan Jackson, Peter Arnold and Melyn Rhodes, and Donald Webster.
For more information, contact Eck at email@example.com or Jenny Rhodes, University of Maryland Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources, at jrhodes@ umd.edu.
Follow Mike Davis on Twitter: @mike_kibaytimes.
Jenell Eck with Youth Farmers and the University of Maryland Extension Office spoke to the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners on Jan. 24 about the upcoming Agriculture Awareness Day to be held at the 4-H Park located in Centreville April 24 and 25.