At the Cook County Farm Bureau, we celebrated National Ag Day (March 21) with two Ag Day events for third grade students: Ag Day South on March 16 at The Children’s Farm in Palos Park and Ag Day North on March 22 at Historic Wagner Farm in Glenview.
During both events, students rotated through eight different crop and livestock stations to learn more about agriculture.
They learned about a variety of topics, including how bees make honey, the difference between beef and dairy cattle, what byproducts come from corn and soybeans, and how plants grow. They were also able to touch and pet farm animals, including chickens, horses, pigs, sheep, and cows.
For many students, Ag Day is their first time visiting a working farm. Visiting a farm is a unique experience. While visiting a farm, you have the opportunity to learn where your food comes from; not the grocery store, but from hard work and time spent planting and harvesting crops and caring for livestock.
When interacting with students, the first question Ag in the Classroom (AITC) presenters ask them is, “What is agriculture?” Most students give an answer relating the word to farming, which can lead to other questions: what is a farm, what grows on a farm, what animals can you find on a farm? Many students relate agriculture and farming to Old
MacDonald, pigs, and cows. We haven’t had one student relate the terms to science, technology, careers, drones, or robots. But we do teach about all of those topics during our AITC presentations!
The goal of our AITC program is to teach students – and people of every age – that agriculture is more than Old MacDonald and cows. The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the ethanol in the gasoline in our cars, even the soybean ink and paper used to print the Co-Operator – all of these things are agriculture. The more you know about agriculture, the more you’ll see its countless connections in daily life: the milk in your cereal, the cotton in dollar bills, the sheep’s wool in scarves, the honey made by bees.
An easy homework assignment for students is to have them go home, pick any item, and explain how it is connected to agriculture. By reading and doing research, they are able to follow the item’s agricultural connections from farm to table to create a drawing or write a story about that journey.
Ag Day is so much more than a holiday on a calendar; it is the opportunity to celebrate and recognize the importance of agriculture every day of the year. Even if you missed celebrating National Ag Day, make today and every day Ag Day, because agriculture is a part of your life today and every day. Happy Ag Day!