Nearly 2,000 third-graders from northern Colorado will visit a Colorado State University research center Wednesday and Thursday to learn about the science of agriculture and the sources of their food.
The students will come from 72 classrooms – virtually every third-grade class in the Poudre School District – for the 11th annual Ag Adventure at CSU’s Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center, 4482 E. County Road 56, Fort Collins.
Nearly 200 students in CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences plan and stage Ag Adventure. These collegiate volunteers will lead third-graders through six hands-on learning centers that illuminate the intricacies of food production and sources of food and fiber.
The learning centers are connected to third-grade academic curriculum standards, tying in math, science, history, geography and other subjects. For instance, the school kids will learn about calculating feed rations at a station focused on beef and dairy cattle, and they’ll learn about measurement while discussing the “hands” of horse height at an equine station.
“I hope the kids learn about where their food comes from and leave knowing more about agriculture,” said Eliza Poet, a CSU junior majoring in animal science and agricultural business who chairs this year’s Ag Adventure planning group.
“That’s important,” Poet continued, “because you can’t respect the people who work in agriculture if you don’t understand the impact they have on your life. I also want the kids to have a good time because Ag Adventure provides really fun, hands-on learning.”
Joining the third-graders at Ag Adventure on Thursday will be CSU President Tony Frank and College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Craig Beyrouty.
Marshall Frasier, a CSU professor of agricultural economics and Ag Adventure faculty adviser, said the program has expanded through the years as Poudre School District teachers have seen its usefulness. Many report that the experience is a highlight of the year for their third-graders.
“Our school teachers have been very happy with Ag Adventure because it provides a good platform for many of the things they teach throughout the year,” Frasier said.
The youngsters will spend 20 minutes at each of the following learning centers:
• Sheep and wool production – highlighting shearing, spinning, weaving and the ever-popular CSU mascot, CAM the Ram.
• Beef and dairy production – featuring feed rations; the biology of ruminants, or animals with four-compartment stomachs; and showcasing a fistulated cow, a research animal with a small window-like panel that allows viewing of digestive processes.
• Equine production – exploring the history of the Western Pony Express mail service and discussing the standard reference to horse height in “hands.”
• Soil and water issues – featuring a rainfall simulator and exploring issues including soil formation, soil texture and erosion as they relate to crop production and a healthy environment.
• Farm-to-plate topics – delving into fruit, vegetable and grain production, and exploring nutrition and food-safety issues.
• Farm safety – touching on safety issues associated with machinery, farm animals and weather.
Topping off the Ag Adventure, third-graders will ride on a hay wagon through farm fields. Ag Adventure will run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. both Wednesday and Thursday.