CIRCLEVILLE — Fourth and fifth grade students across the Pickaway County School Districts were “down on the farm” as part of the annual tradition of Pickaway County Ag Day held this week.
Students got hands on with farm equipment, learned about farm animals and crops and the careers that are in the agricultural industry at the Pickaway County Agricultural and Event Center in Circleville.
Jan Shannon, president of the Pickaway County Farm Bureau, said the event was a collaboration between the Farm Bureau and Pickaway Soil and Water Conservation District with the cooperation of the schools. Thursday, fifth grade students participated, and Friday, fourth grade students took their turn. Each day hosted about 800 students.
“We have different stations for them to actually touch and feel, they can learn about bees, market animals, soil and jobs,” Shannon stated. “They’ll rotate each of those stations and learn about each subject. They’ll then go back to their schools and we’ve provided them with additional resources.”
Katerina Sharp, education/outreach coordinator with Pickaway Soil and Water Conservation District said the event was a great event for the students.
“It’s a really important topic and so many kids aren’t necessarily learning what we’re talking about here in their classrooms,” Sharp said. “Agriculture is going to affect them whether they’re in school or out of school. It’s very relevant. Everyone wants to know where their food is coming from, farming and chemicals, but people are so far removed from the farm now.
“There’s a lot of good information out there and it’s hard for people to know what information out there is good and what is not. So I think this is a great opportunity to get kids interested in the subject now and it’ll move with them as they get older,” she added.
Pickaway County AG Day has been ongoing for many years, Shannon told The Circleville Herald.
“Over the last few years, it’s morphed to be more related to current day agriculture,” Shannon continued. “We’ve worked with our curriculum directors and teachers to make sure what they learn is curriculum-friendly for this age group.”
Shannon said the local agricultural students at area high schools and FFA teachers have put the programming together.
“All of the presentations are one by the AG kids and the guides were either Ag kids or community members,” Shannon commented.
Andy Perkins, a fourth-grade teacher at Circleville said it was a great opportunity for the students to participate in AG Day and the students were looking forward to seeing the animals up close.
“The exposure to agriculture is important because being a city school we don’t have a ton of agriculture other than in our rural community,” Perkins said. “It’s great for our kids to see the importance of farming, bees and the other animals they don’t get to interact with regularly like students in the county schools do.”
U.S. Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) was on hand to both tour the fairgrounds for the first time and to speak with students participating in AG Day, even leading them in a chant of “no farm, no food.”
“They were very excited and they’re getting to see a lot of big farm equipment, animals and learn about bees, crops and livestock,” Stivers said. “It’s really important that young people understand the importance of agriculture. It’s the biggest industry in Ohio, and it is how we all eat. I led them in the chant and tried to get them to understand why it’s important because it’s how we sustain ourselves.”
Shannon said having Stivers present was important for the kids.
“They can see him here and how important agriculture is to him but also so he can see from a Pickaway County standpoint to see how important it is to sponsor an event like this to make sure we educate our kids about it,” she said.
Shannon said having the event at the new facilities was a big help and allowed them to do more this year.
“We’ve purposefully spread things out,” she said. “It’s made it so much smoother because it gives them opportunity to spread out equipment and give kids a chance to be more hands on with the animals instead of being in a dark barn or not being able to see an animal because we didn’t have room for them.
Stivers called the facilities at the fairgrounds “super impressive.”
“These are the most modern fairgrounds in the state and maybe the whole country,” Stivers remarked. “With the planning that went into it it’ll be great for 50 years.”
Stivers specifically mentioned the amphitheater as a feature Pickaway County has that not many other fairground facilities do.
“I expected to see a sheep barn, a horse arena, steer barn, a swine barn but those are at fairgrounds,” he added. “I’ve never seen one with an amphitheater and being able to see it and know it seats 1,000 people is awesome. The multipurpose building with what they can do with it and the amphitheater are really going to make this fairgrounds something that’s used 52 weeks a year not just one week a year. This fairgrounds with the modern facilities will be used all the time which is incredible.”