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San Patricio County ready for annual ‘Ag in the Classroom’

Posted: 5:50 AM, Oct 16, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-16 12:22:44-04

“Agriculture in the Classroom”  has been around for years. It’s a multifaceted program that brings the world of agriculture to students.

It helps them see the world where their food is grown, and how farmers and ranchers are a part of their daily lives.

Ag in the Classroom is a grassroots outreach program for elementary school students, and it’s been going on for more than 30 years.

The San Patricio County Farm Bureau along with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, helps kids understand the importance of agriculture and how it impacts their everyday lives.

“We want to give the true story of agriculture to the kids. They may see this stuff on TV or see it driving down the road, but we want to bring them out here and let them touch and feel cotton, climb on a tractor; they may not ever get that close to a tractor again,” Ag in the Classroom chairman Jason Nedbalek said. “And just teach them how important agriculture is in their lives, and in our county, and our state as an industry.”

These classes are a two-day event, targeting fourth grade students from San Patricio County. It teaches them about food and fibers production, wildlife management, safety and environmental stewardship.

“It is 10 different stations, and we have a mobile dairy classroom, and they will see a dairy cow being milked, farm equipment, cotton, grain sorghum, ag products, all the things you make from ag by-products. So they will see a wide variety of agricultural aspects in the county and the state,” Nedbalek said.

This is a great opportunity for them to learn about agriculture from area experts.

“We have farmers and ranchers that volunteer their time to come up and do a presentation, and some ag extension people that will do some presentations also,” Nedbalek said. “They are taking time out of their day to come teach this story to the kids.”

This event will host more than a thousand kids over a two-day period.

“In the past, we used to do this, and we would go to a cotton gin, and we would bring one classroom out, and they would see cotton and that is all they got to see,” Nedbalek said. “Well the facilities we have here in Sinton at the fairgrounds makes it a great place to bring all of those agricultural aspects to one location, and bring the kids where they can see many things throughout the day.”

Considering the nation hangs on its mobile phones, many children think milk, eggs and potatoes come from a store. They don’t make the connection without thinking as to where the food is actually produced.

More than 1,000 students will participate in 10 educational stations. The first session is the mobile dairy classroom and is 30-45 minutes in length. Students will then rotate to six 15-minutes sessions.

Youth will be exposed to various aspects of the agricultural industry including: dairy, grains, cotton, wildlife, water conservation, beef by-products, lamb production and wetlands.

The students will be able to learn how important farming and ranching is and will also learn from community and industry leaders of how Texas’ agricultural history is important. Also, how it’ll play a role to make Texas an even greater place in the future.

Resource materials and the Food and Fiber curriculum was provided to the teachers two weeks prior to “Ag Fair” for continued learning on agriculture.

Other materials included in packets taken to the schools were: program information, schedule of events, a list of donors and sponsors, speakers and pre and post tests for students and teacher evaluations.