Agri­cul­ture coali­tion aims to in­spire youth

Record Observer - - School - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

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 jeck@umd.edu or Jenny Rhodes, Univer­sity of Mary­land Ex­ten­sion Ed­u­ca­tor for Agri­cul­ture and Nat­u­ral Re­sources, at jrhodes@ umd.edu.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

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.

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