Planning an agriculture event at your school or organization
Schools, clubs and organizations alike can use the following tips and resources to organize an agriculture event.
- Invite local farmers and agricultural professionals to your class to learn more about agriculture and agricultural careers. An agricultural career fair will introduce students to numerous opportunities and will help students recognize that agriculture is not only about farming.
- Contact your local Extension Office, 4-H or FFA Organizations for volunteers that can bring animals to your school for students to admire and enjoy. Visit links to other agriculture education resources for web addresses.
- Explore the many crops grown in Virginia. Students can attempt to grow, cultivate and harvest a crop inside the classroom. Start by creating a windowsill vegetable/ herb garden, growing a vine from a sweet potato or germinating seeds. For more ideas see the growing activities page.
- Make ice cream or hold a milk mustache contest (use ice cream, sour cream or plain yogurt to achieve a similar milk mustache look). Using a camera, photograph students and create your own Milk Mustache ads. Have students bring in Milk Mustache ads from magazines and make a Milk Mustache scrapbook or display. Students can also compete to create the most humorous Got Milk? Scenario.
- Have a butter-making contest. Pour a half-pint carton of heavy whipping cream into a glass jar (preferably a mason or quart jar) and close the lid. Have students shake, roll and dance with the jar until you can see butter and buttermilk have formed. Strain off buttermilk into a separate container. Next, wash butter by pouring fresh water over the butter and rinsing clean, repeat two or three more times. Strain off excess water and remaining buttermilk. Using a spatula or wooden spoon press butter against the sides of the jar to remove additional water and buttermilk. Salt the butter to taste. Spread butter on crackers, toast or bagels and serve. Store butter in the refrigerator or in a cool area. Buttermilk can be used to make bread, muffins or other baking products. Note: whenever you handle food, make sure every participant washes his or her hands thoroughly.
- Go on a field trip to a farm equipment dealership. Learn about equipment used by local farmers, get brochures on new farm equipment and have a class portrait taken with a tractor. Or, ask the dealer to bring a couple of pieces of equipment to your Ag Day site. Other interesting agricultural trips include visiting a local processing plant, farm, riding stable or testing lab.
- Host a taste testing party (contest) using locally or Virginia grown and produced products. Prepare samples of foods, blindfold students and have them taste various products to identify. Allow other students to provide hints, tips or clues to assist stumped taste testers. Make a meal from all your locally produced products. Again, remember to wash hands thoroughly before working with food.
- Track or map out the route of a product from producer to consumer (i.e. farmer, milk truck driver, processing plant, distributor, store, consumer). Choose your favorite product or a Virginia grown product to follow from producer to consumer. Create a map and research each stop. Students can recreate the map in the classroom. Set up areas for farming, harvesting, transporting, processing, retail and any others that might be pertinent. Students can choose roles, research those roles, dress to fit the part, and invite other classes to take a tour. Invite representatives from each stage of production to visit beforehand and provide advice or answer questions.
- Beautify your campus! Begin or end your event with a tree planting ceremony. A local nursery or garden center might donate a tree or shrub and send someone to talk about horticulture.
- Contact a local beekeeper and ask him or her to bring an observation hive and to talk about pollination. You can contact Keith Tignor, State Apiarist, at 804.786.3515 for further information.
- Ask your school dietician or nurse to demonstrate basic food safety concepts such as washing hands thoroughly, separating foods, avoiding cross contamination, cooking thoroughly, and refrigerating promptly.