Students learn about ag opportunities
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.
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.
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.