2015 Hopkins County Youth Science of Agriculture
Developed by Dr. Mario A. Villarino, County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources
Hopkins County, Texas
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 2015 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 and water conservation. This program targeted 857- 4th grade students in Rains, Wood, Delta, Franklin, Fannin and Hopkins Counties.
To address the needs of agricultural education to school grade youth, this plan conducted the following activities:
1. Ag in The Classroom Volunteer Meeting (October 2014): A working meeting after the 2014 educational event was held with presenters. Recognition for their support was expressed and comments/suggestions were taken. A definitive date was scheduled for 2015.
2. Organizational Meeting for 2015 Ag in the Classroom (February, 2015). County extension agents from Hopkins, Delta, Franklin and Rains Counties met to provide leadership for topic selection, volunteers and programmatic needs for the 2015 event.
3. Ag-in-the-classroom program planning with Ag in the classroom committee (May 2015). A meeting with participant volunteers and presenters was conducted to describe the differences and adjustments to the 2015 program.
4. 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.
5. A pre-event evaluation consisting of 18 questions was given to 50 participants attending the Sulphur Springs Elementary School during September 2015.
6. Ag in the Classroom Event Implementation (949 attendees) (857 youth). The program consisted in a field trip to the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center Arena. The arena was set up in 11 stations with different agricultural topics on each one. The students were welcome at the same time and The Mobile Dairy Classroom session was delivered to the group. After the first session, smaller groups were divided into each station and 8 minute programs were delivered to the groups.
7. Science of Agriculture Teacher/Student Packets. A package of information was prepared and delivered to the teachers to use as reference material for their classroom.
8. A post-event evaluation consisting of 18 questions was given to 50 participants attending the Sulphur Springs Elementary School during late October 2015.
9. Plan Summary. Activities accomplished during the plan were summarized in a two page document.
10. Science of Agriculture Interpretation. Interpretation of the plan was compiled and distributed to key leaders of the community, media and the community in general.
During the delivery of the program, several volunteer groups provided student instructions, moving teaching display and caring for live animal part of the exhibits and teaching sessions.
Evaluation Strategy: An evaluation instrument (pre and post approach) was utilized to measure knowledge gained after the students participated in the program. A sample (50 students) was selected from the Sulphur Springs Elementary School to fill out the surveys before and after the educational event. Student survey result comparisons were conducted using a paired t-test.
Results: Survey results indicated that the knowledge gained by the Science of Agriculture plan was significant (P: 0.0319) (paired t- test t=2.59 df= 8). Student evaluations showed a significant knowledge gain after they experience the field event (Mean 62.5 % before the event vs 82.2 % after the event).
Acknowledgements: The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Office in Hopkins County would like to
thank the support of Hopkins-Rains Farm Bureau, Hopkins County Master Gardeners, Southwest Dairy Farmers, North East Texas Beef Improvement Organization, Hopkins County Master Gardeners, Shannon Pickering and the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center for their support during the implementation of this
For more information on these or any other agricultural topic please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or email me at [email protected]