2009-10-15 / Local & State

Sixth-Graders Spend A Day On The Farm

Annual Youth Ag Expo held Oct. 6
By Lindsay R. Mellott STAFF WRITER

Forbes Road sixth-graders Ashley Leis, Arica Carbaugh and Chayla Edwards rub rocks together at last Tuesday’s Ag Expo to learn about erosion. Forbes Road sixth-graders Ashley Leis, Arica Carbaugh and Chayla Edwards rub rocks together at last Tuesday’s Ag Expo to learn about erosion. Sixth-graders from all over the county spent a beautiful fall Tuesday last week at the Englert dairy farm in Todd Township getting the lowdown on agriculture at the Fulton County Conservation District’s annual Youth Ag Expo.

For Southern Fulton sixthgrader Dakota Wagenbrenner, 11, who admitted he was excited to be at the expo, and the other 170 or so sixth-graders there, it was an opportunity to learn about the important role agriculture plays in their lifes.

“It’s actually kind of nice,” Dakota said. “We get to learn about all these vegetables and organic stuff.”

The sixth-graders were bused from the county’s three public school districts and the Fulton County Community Christian School to spend the day at the Englerts’ self-contained dairy farm located in the Narrows, near Knobsville, which has been farmed by the family for 90 years. The farm has 60 head of cattle and farmer Reed Englert says most of what is needed to run the dairy operation is grown on the farm.

By the end of the day, the students not only went home with a better understanding of what goes on “down on the Englert farm,” they also came away with a wealth of information about a variety of agricultural specialities and techniques.

The Conservation District works in partnership with the Farm Bureau, the Farm Service Agency, Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to put the Youth Ag Expo together each year. The Fulton County Milk Promoters provide milk for the sixth-graders’ lunch and things for goodie bags the kids get to take take home.

Seleen Shives, Conservation District manager, says its surprising what some kids – even kids growing up in rural Fulton County – don’t know about farms and agriculture.

Shives said that the annual expo had been held at the Fulton County Fairgrounds until last year. “We wanted to give the kids a real on-the-farm experience,” she said. “I thought it would be a much better experience.” And so the Conservation District and its expo partners decided to revamp the event into a real farm experience, and the Englerts agreed to open up their farm to the expo.

Southern Fulton ag teacher Rebecca Mosemann, who was at the expo with officers of Southern Fulton’s FFA chapter, said she thought it was “awesome” that students were getting to experience agriculture hands on. “Hands-on experi- ence is incredibly valuable,” she said.

The expo committee also developed a curriculum for the schools to use in preparing students for the expo. Shives said the curriculum was designed to help the schools meet the state’s environmental education and ecology standards.

During the daylong expo students rotated through seven stations, manned by volunteers, where they learned about: organic vegetable gardening, Randy Treichler, Star Hollow Farms, Three Springs; farm wildlife, Mike Deluca, Pennsylvania Game Commission; Ag Jeopardy, Lori Hansroth, Penn State Cooperative Extension; soils, Greg Reineke, Conservation District; dairy farming, Mark Mosemann, Misty Mountain Farm; the family farm, Reed Englert and Scott Alexander, Conservation District; and careers in agriculture, Southern Fulton FFA officers.

The sixth-graders also learned that farming can be tough. Reed Englert spoke to them about the struggle facing dairy farmers now over low milk prices. But he emphasized the rewards of farm life, saying that he wakes up to open space each day. He told the students that he hoped they came away from the expo with the desire to keep Fulton County’s open spaces open.

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