Stu­dents learn about ag op­por­tu­ni­ties

Record Observer - - FRONT PAGE - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­times.com

CENTREVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity suc­cess­fully hosted “Ag Aware­ness Day” Mon­day, April 24, and Tues­day, April 25, for all sev­enth-graders in county schools at the 4-H Park near Centreville. The goal was to ex­pose the stu­dents to many dif­fer­ent ca­reers avail­able in agri­cul­ture.

“This was very well or­ga­nized,” said Kim­berly Kra­tovil, who was a par­ent chap­er­one with her son Nathan’s school from Kent Is­land on Tues­day. “This ex­po­sure is im­por­tant for kids to see what’s out there, es­pe­cially in high tech jobs in agri­cul­ture, and how it ef­fects ev­ery­ones lives.”

Kra­tovil, who serves as Eastern Shore com­mu­nity li­ai­son for U.S. Se­na­tor Ben Cardin, was re­fer­ring to the “high tech jobs” that were demon­strated — from the lat­est John Deere trac­tor on dis­play by farmer John Draper of Centreville to a small drone with cam­era at­tached used to fly over fields

to take pictures of crops to show how those crops are fair­ing dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son. Much of the Ag Day was “hands-on” for the stu­dents.

Par­ents Nancy Weibell of Centreville and Tami Dilling of Steves­nville also ser ved as chap­er­ones, and both also were im­pressed with the pro­gram.

Weibell said, “Our fam­ily al­ways trav­els out west dur­ing the Queen Anne’s County Fair, and I’m happy this was done for those chil­dren, like mine, who have never been to the fair.”

In or­ga­nized groups, Sudlersville and Centreville mid­dle schools stu­dents at­tended Mon­day. Stevensville and Mat­a­peake mid­dle school stu­dents at­tended Tues­day.

Five dif­fer­ent learn­ing sta­tions were or­ga­nized: 1. Grain farm­ing — corn, wheat and soy­beans, along with look­ing at the lat­est agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy; 2. Farm an­i­mals on dis­play — dairy, beef, horses, goats, sheep, swine and poul­try; 3. Hor­ti­cul­ture — nurs­ery, land­scap­ing, forestry, pro­duce, flori­cul­ture and green­houses; 4. Aqua­cul­ture — oys­ters and other aquatic life that is “farmed” in wa­ters; and 5. Bees in Ag — dis­cus­sions about honey bees and im­por­tance of pol­li­na­tion.

Some 85 dif­fer­ent ca­reers in agri­cul­ture were men­tioned, and many of those were demon­strated dur­ing the Ag Day pre­sen­ta­tions. Some of the ca­reers in agri­cul­ture that were men­tioned were: Vet­eri­nary As­sis­tant, Hatchery Man­ager, Nu­tri­tion­ist, Hor­ti­cul­ture Sci­en­tist, Flo­ral De­signer, Sci­en­tific Il­lus­tra­tor, Ar­borist, En­vi­ron­men­tal En­gi­neer, Botanist, Ecol­o­gist, Cli­ma­tol­o­gist, to men­tion just a few.

Six­teen peo­ple com­bined ef­forts to plan the event over the past six months. The Ag Day Board in­cluded Jes­sica Clarke, John Draper, Jenell Eck, Mike Emb­brey, Ni­cole Fiorellino, Kim Kem­pel, Tom Jack­son, Chris John­ston, Michael Page, Jenny Rhodes, Sally Rosen­berry, Faith Ross­ing, Donna Smith, Brian Stakes, Don­ald Web­ster, and the Queen Anne’s County High School of­fi­cers of the Fu­ture Farm­ers of Amer­ica, Jen Gan­non, Mor­gan El­burn, Me­gan Jack­son, Peter Arnold and Me­lyn Rhodes. The Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers also con­trib­uted $2,500 to help pay for the costs of host­ing the event.

The idea for Ag Day came from Jenell Eck, for­mer Miss Mary­land Agri­cul­ture. Dur­ing her ser­vice in that po­si­tion, she trav­eled to nearly every county in the state for agri­cul­tural events. She wit­nessed first­hand sev­eral other coun­ties host­ing Ag Aware­ness Days for school chil­dren. She brought the idea of host­ing an Ag Day in Queen Anne’s County for sev­enth graders to the Ag Day Board mem­bers. It was re­ported that 68 vol­un­teers from the local agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pated di­rectly to make the event an ed­u­ca­tional suc­cess.

“All those on the Ag Day Board and all those who vol­un­teered made this hap­pen,” said Eck. “With­out ev­ery­one’s con­tri­bu­tion, this would not have been as suc­cess­ful as it was.”

Ma­jor spon­sors also in­cluded the Queen Anne’s Soil Conser va­tion Dis­trict, Pur­due, Axis Seed, Farm Credit, Queen Anne’s County Young Famers & Ranch­ers, Univer­sity of Mary­land Ex­ten­sion, and Queen Anne’s County Farm. Mary­land Grain Pro­duc­ers Uti­liza­tion Board pro­vided a grant.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

Sev­enth-grade stu­dents were able to pet many of the an­i­mals on dis­play dur­ing Ag Aware­ness Day, Mon­day, April 24, with Queen Anne’s County High FFA Sec­re­tary Me­gan Jack­son an­swer­ing ques­tions. Here they get to pet a young goat Me­gan is hold­ing. Me­gan is also the 2017 Miss Queen Anne’s County Farm Bureau.

Drone tech­ni­cians Tyler Pease and Sam Stan­ton, cen­ter, left and right, were on hand to show county 7th-graders the lat­est in tech­nolo­gies used in farm­ing. Drones like the one be­ing held are used to fly over crops grow­ing in fields to spot any in­fes­ta­tion prob­lems be­fore it can ruin a crop. Ex­am­ples of fields that had been pho­tographed were dig­i­tally dis­played at the ex­hibit, Mon­day, April 24, dur­ing Ag Aware­ness Day, at the 4-H Park.

PHO­TOS BY DOUG BISHOP

Sev­enth-grade stu­dents from Centreville Mid­dle School fill their dec­o­ra­tive grain jars with corn, soy­beans and wheat, as one of the ac­tiv­i­ties they did learn­ing about grain farm­ing, Mon­day, April 24, dur­ing Ag Aware­ness Day, held at the 4-H Park near Centreville. All sev­enth-graders par­tic­i­pated from all the mid­dle schools in the county.

Local bee­keep­ers, Mike Em­brey, left, and Anna Wysocki talk with stu­dents about how im­por­tant honey bees are to crop pro­duc­tion. The small honey comb tray Em­brey was hold­ing would gen­er­ate $70 in com­mer­cial honey — “liq­uid gold,” he called it. Have you priced honey in stores re­cently?

Queen Anne’s County High School FFA stu­dent sheep spe­cial­ist Daniel King was on hand dur­ing Ag Awarenss Day to al­low 7th-graders to get up close and per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence with live­stock they might oth­er­wise never see.

Centreville Mid­dle School 7th-graders Ai­dan Bard­off, left, and Jay­den Handy sit in­side local farmer John Draper’s new­est John Deere trac­tor, Mon­day, April 24, at the 4-H Park. Each stu­dent re­ceived a per­sonal, hands-on view of the lat­est in farm­ing tech­nol­ogy dur­ing the Ag Aware­ness Day.

Queen Anne’s County FFA Re­porter Me­lyn Rhodes, left, and Pres­i­dent Jen­nifer Gan­non were part of the equine dis­play among many of the farm an­i­mals at Ag Aware­ness Day, Mon­day, April 24, at the 4-H Park in Centreville.

Baby chicks were on dis­play.

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