Farm Talk

Front page stories

May 1, 2012

Celebrating Earth Day

Parsons, Kansas — “In agriculture, every day is Earth Day”—it doesn’t matter how many times it is said or how many times it is printed on a poster, that message continues to be a testament to how important it is for farmers to be stewards of the land.

That same message was recently passed on to area 4th graders during Farm Bureau’s 17th annual Earth Day event held in Parsons, Kansas.

The event, hosted by Farm Bureau members of Crawford, Labette, Montgomery, Neosho and Wilson counties, welcomed 851 fourth grade students, 46 classroom teachers and one student teacher from 18 schools in five counties last week, making this year’s event the biggest ever.

According to Labette County Farm Bureau member and Earth Day Coordinator Mona Owens, the purpose of the day is to impress upon the kids how important agriculture is in everyday life.

“With such a large number of kids this year we had to figure a way to handle them a little better so we added some stations,” she said. “We usually have around 15 stations and this year we had 20.”

Each and every one of the stations featured a short lesson and exhibit featuring ag products and their uses in everyday life.

Students attending Earth Day were able to visit exhibits such as the barnyard zoo, tools of the industry, ag jeopardy, what’s in a slice of pizza, Kansas Soybean Commission, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Kansas Wheat Growers just to name a few.

Each year the Farm Bureau members try to add topics to make the event exciting.

“The past few years we had the mobile dairy here but due to schedule conflicts they couldn’t come this year,” Owens said. “We ended up replacing that with live animal presentations.”

Another new addition this year was Ag Jeopardy, which took the place of the Farmers’s Scramble.

“For Ag Jeopardy the students were asked questions related to agriculture and then given a prize that related to that industry,” Owens explained.

For example, if a beef question was asked and then answered the student received beef jerky.

“We even had a beekeeping question and the students that answered correctly got a honey packet,” she said. “We wanted to expose the students to different parts of agriculture and give them something that tied into that to help them remember.”

There was also a large tractor and combine and planter so the students could get up close to the equipment used by farmers.

According to Owens, one of the goals of Earth Day is to show students how agriculture is all around them.

“We still want to impress on the kids that the grain crops in our county, including wheat, corn and soybeans not only provide food, but other things used in everyday life,” she explains. “The message we want to pass on is that no matter where they are, agriculture influences everyday life.”

When it comes to making the event a success, Owens said it takes more than a record number of students.

“There is no way I could do this without my counterparts from the other county Farm Bureau offices, area farmers, volunteers and sponsors,” she said.

One very important group of volunteers Owens feels lucky to have help her are the area FFA students.

“We had 45 to 50 FFA members helping this year from Neodesha, Fredonia, Cherryvale, Erie, Girard and Labette County,” Owens explained. “We also had several collegiate Farm Bureau members from Coffeyville Community College helping.”

The other key element to making Earth Day a success, according to her, is the help from the sponsors.

“We have such a list of wonderful sponsors and almost all of them are businesses related to agriculture,” she said. “The support we get from them is crucial in order to put this on.”

Every year the students who attend the event leave with a wealth of information about how important agriculture is but they also leave with something to help them remember their experience at Earth Day.

“Every student that comes to Earth Day receives a redbud tree to take home and plant,” Owens said. “This has been a really important part of Earth Day, especially for me. When I drive around in the spring and see a redbud tree blooming I wonder if it was someone that came to Earth Day.”

Although it takes a lot of planning, a lot of footwork and a lot of people to pull off an event of this size, according to Owens, it is all worthwhile.

“This is an important educational event for our kids. The Lord blesses us in many ways and he helps us make it good for the kids,” she concluded.

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