Relevance: As today’s youth are further removed from farming, their understanding of the importance of
agriculture and how it impacts their daily lives diminishes. This Science of Agriculture (Ag Literacy/Awareness) program targets 4th grade students and teachers in Rains, Hopkins, Delta, Wood and
Franklin Counties. The plan provided the following educational components: Educational support materials on Science of Agriculture, field trip to the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center, pre- and post-evaluation and information about 4-H opportunities for the participants and parents. During 2017 the plan included educational presentations in cattle milking, products and byproducts of the beef industry, dairy foods, 4-H, horse care, wildlife, small grains and cotton, poultry production, bee keeping, goat production and water conservation. This program targeted 900- 4th grade students in Wood, Delta, Franklin, and Hopkins Counties.
Response: To address the needs of agricultural education to school grade youth, this plan conducted the following activities:
- Ag in The Classroom Volunteer Meeting (October 2017): A working meeting after the 2015 educational event was held with presenters. Recognition for their support was expressed and comments/suggestions were taken. A definitive date was scheduled for 2017.
- Organizational Meeting for 2017 Ag in the Classroom (February, 2017). County Extension Agents from Hopkins, Delta, Franklin and Rains Counties and representatives of Rain-Hopkins Farm Bureau met to provide leadership for topic selection, volunteers and programmatic needs for the 2017 event.
- Ag-in-the-classroom program planning with Ag in the classroom committee (May 2017). A meeting with participant volunteers and presenters was conducted to describe the differences and adjustments to the 2016 program.
- Marketing/Promotion to Schools. An invitational letter to all elementary schools in the region was drafted and mailed to school superintendents and principals. A description of the program including the benefits for the children on their participation was included.
- A pre-event evaluation consisting of 18 questions was given to 50 participants attending the Sulphur
Springs Elementary School during September 2017.
- Ag in the Classroom Event (October 3-4, 2017).
- A post-event evaluation consisting of 18 questions was given to 50 participants attending the Sulphur Springs Elementary School using a pre and post paired study design. Statistical Analysis was conducted using a T-Test (Paired based).
- Plan interpretation (Volunteers 11/9, Commissioner’s Court 11/27, and mass media 12/5).
Results: A two-day session was held at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Coliseum October 3 and 4th, 2017. The topics included were: dairy farming, poultry, water conservation, promotion of 4-H, beef production, use of horses as therapeutic aides, small grains, cotton, healthy eating, goat farming, and honey production. The number of attendees was as follows: males: 376, females: 322, living in farms: 19, living in rural settings: 340, living in town: 339, Volunteers: 43. The questionnaires results indicated an average of correct answers of 11.94 pre training vs 12.75 post training (T-value: 1.38; P-value: 0.175; the comparison results were not statistically significant at p< 0.01).
Impact: The importance of learning food and fiber production is critical to our society. Due to intense media awareness related to food and food supply, local markets remain as an economical alternative for families to purchase and produce their own food. This training provided an overview of the food production process displaying local producers and their products.