Fourth-graders learn about 14 farming aspects
PRINCETON — In an effort to demonstrate to all the fourth-graders in Bureau County the importance of agriculture in their lives, the Bureau County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee held its 24th annual Ag Fair on Thursday.
The Ag Fair is a daylong event at the Bureau County Fairgrounds, in which the students make timed stops (nine minutes at each station) at 14 different stations. These stations encompass dairy, embryology, safety, pork, corn, seed science, conservation, beef, soybeans, wheat, technology, equipment, large animals and small animals.
The Farm Bureau Women’s Committee and the Bureau County Ag Coalition Committee originally started Ag Fair. The Ag Coalition Committee consists of a member from each participating Ag Fair station. This committee was originally formed to develop and oversee the goals set for the Ag Fair.
Over time, the Ag Coalition Committee has handed the organizing process over to the Women’s Committee, where the chairperson takes the lead on final decision-making. The Ag Coalition members then handle the planning of their individual presentations.
Each year the Ag Fair is evaluated. Any considerations for changes come through observation of the event, teachers’ input from evaluation sheets, and suggestions made by volunteers.
The committee begins the planning process about six months in advance of the Ag Fair each year. The committee works with local businesses, farmers, county commodity groups, U of I Extension, local FS and Soil Water Conservation District, as well as state commodity groups to make presentations at each station. Volunteers are recruited, a total of 75, to serve as presenters, leaders of the classes, time keepers, bus directors, goodie bag distributors and several other jobs including set-up and clean-up workers.
The day prior to the fair, the presenters take time to set up their displays and set-up crews put up tables, chairs and partitions at each station. The day of the fair, coffee, juice, rolls and lunch, provided by local businesses, are served to all the presenters and volunteers.
Following the Ag Fair, each student is given a bag of goodies the committee puts together that contains items donated by each of the presenters, from coloring books to balloons and pencils. Teachers are given an evaluation that will assist not only the committee, but also the presenters next year. As a follow-up, the committee is sponsoring a thank-you card drive for all the volunteers for the event. Students are encouraged to draw their favorite part of the educational event.
A teacher attending a past Ag Fair best sums up the event, “Ag Fair is the best-kept secret in Bureau County.”
This year, approximately 350 students from 19 classrooms attended the Ag Fair.