By Ian Faulkner, Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 —
North Carolina Coopera-tive Extension presented Agricultural Awareness Days last week at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center.
The event was for third graders from around the county in public, private and Christian schools. This was the eighth year it has happened.
“We got the idea from a similar event that took place in Hoke County that used to be called ‘Cotton Days,’ ”said Lori Ivey, county extension director for the Stanly County office of Cooperative Extension.
Ivey said the need for Ag Days resulted from when she realized her son, and many other young children, weren’t aware of from where their food came.
This year, the event featured 12 different stations that students visited, spending about 20 minutes at each before moving on to the next.
Ken Barbee spoke at the Livestock Cattle station, explaining to the children how he weighs, tags and brands his beef.
“Sometimes we don’t use heat to brand,” Barbee said.
“Instead, we’ll do cold branding. We use alcohol and dry ice. What it does is cause a pigment change in their fur, leaving white hair behind. It’s a little less painful for the cattle.”
Additionally, before students learned about the cattle, Barbee loaded them into the scale he uses to weigh his beef. Apparently, 10 third-graders weigh approximately 650 pounds.
Cotton was at another station, and children were able to learn about how it is grown and what is manufactured from it.
“We plant cotton in the first half of May. Around early July, we’ll see the cotton flowers, thanks to the insects doing the pollinating. The cotton bowl is where the cotton develops; it’s about the size of a golf ball,” said David Parrish to Mrs. Lisk’s Aquadale third graders.
Brian Hinson from Albemarle Parks & Recreation ran the Environmental station where students learned about how pollution affects the local ecosystems.
Robert Holshouser demonstrated what local area beekeepers do at the Bee station. He stood within a screened-in booth where he extracted various bee-covered honeycombs for the excitedly buzzing students to admire.
“Insects are beneficial to us. Why? Because they give us our food through pollination,” said Joe Smith of the Stanly County Beekeepers Association.
Ivey explained that the Ag Day events almost ended before they began.
“Schools had a 45-day hold on field trips, and Ag Days fell within this period. Luckily, we were able to align the stations with the new curriculum for the school.”
Ivey informed that it took 50 volunteers each day. Some came from various 4-H clubs from around the region. North Stanly High School’s Future Farmers of America taught 10-minute sessions on corn or assisted with the livestock barn.
The Farm Bureau donated one book bag per teacher filled with classroom supplies. Additionally, students were sent home with a bag filled with items reminiscent of the days’ activities.
“We think the best way to make people aware of the agricultural industry in Stanly County is to educate the children,” Ivey said.
“Educate the kids and they will in turn teach their parents and siblings.”