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LaPorte Farm Bureau Breathes New Life into Ag Days


by Jerry Goshert

Published: Friday, March 20, 2020

Call it the Ag Days that almost didn't happen.

At one point, the annual agricultural education event in late January for LaPorte County fourth-graders was nearly canceled due to a lack of interest. However, just when things seemed darkest, the LaPorte County Farm Bureau stepped in to save the day.

LuAnn Troxel, a Farm Bureau volunteer, said there were many people in the Farm Bureau organization who wanted the Ag Day program to contin-ue. However, without the event's principal organizer, Extension educator Gene Matzat, who is now retired, there was a void in leadership.

When the Farm Bureau learned about the situation, they decided overwhelm-ingly to offer their assistance. The Farm Bureau partnered with the LaPorte Row Crop Food Producers Team and LaPorte County Extension to host Ag Days Jan. 29-30 at the National Guard Armory in LaPorte. Troxel said LaPorte County Extension secretary Tina DeWitt played a key role in organizing the event.

As it turned out, over 700 students from 13 elementary schools had the opportunity to expand their understanding of agriculture during two days of storytelling and instruction. Farmers, educators and FFA students talked about the many facets of agriculture, even bringing some unique visual aids to drive home their points.

Several members of the LaPorte County FFA chapter were on hand to educate students about healthy soil. As an object lesson, the fourth-graders were given cups containing marshmallows, pudding, Rice Krispies, gummies and pretzels, with each edible item representing a differ-ent layer of earth or vegetation. Using gummies, the FFA students, including Mallory Warner and Celeste Barclay, talked about the vital role worms have in the soil.

The fourth-graders were very interested in the lesson and walked away with something sweet to eat.

Warner is involved with horses and participates in livestock judging with LaPorte FFA. She developed an interest in agriculture thanks to her grandmother, who is a farmer. As an educator for the day, Warner talked about the many leadership opportunities available through FFA.

In addition to FFA, students learned about crops, farm machinery, beef, milk and dairy cattle, pigs, crop protection, poultry, insects, wa-ter quality, new crops and new technologies used to produce food.

To enhance the educational aspect, teachers were given information packets to help students review and remember what was learned during their visit. The information included pamphlets, stickers, rulers and other activity suggestions from Indiana's agricultural commodity groups.

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