Today I am honored to have Emily Odom from Odom Farming Company guest posting again. She has guest posted in the past and today she is going to tell you about what her farm along with Farm Bureau are opening the eyes of young children about agriculture with their We Dig It Ag Day.
When we started our farm, education really wasn’t our goal. It Giving Back We Dig It Ag Day wasn’t because we didn’t think it was a good goal to have or we weren’t interested in it, we were unprepared for the need. We didn’t realize how many people didn’t realize where their food came from, or didn’t know a farmer, or just didn’t grow up the way we did around farms and gardens. The epiphany for us was when we had a group of kids who live in the city of Goldsboro come and not realize that the potatoes we were digging from the ground were where mashed potatoes come from. That’s when we started doing trips and tours that were more education based and that’s when the idea was born in my husband JR’s mind to have an Ag Day.
When he was in high school his FFA Chapter helped out at an Ag Day at Cherry Farms where younger kids went from station to station learning about agriculture. He thought it would be a great idea to have one on the farm, but we didn’t have the network in place to make it happen. How would we pay for it? How would we get the school system to agree? Who would help us plan it? Then in 2013, Wayne County Farm Bureau started a Young Farmer & Rancher (YF&R) program. Instantly JR knew that this was the platform we needed. Farm Bureau is one of the biggest advocates for agriculture in the nation, especially in our state, and through that organization, we knew we’d find the resources we need to get this project off the ground. Luckily our members thought Ag Day was a great idea too and after renaming it the We Dig It Ag Day to coincide with the We Dig It campaign our county’s cooperative extension was doing. That first year we had no idea what we were doing but with together with our fellow, YF&R members help we got it planned and organized. We had twelve stations, all related to agriculture in our county. All the second graders in our county would attend (all 1600 of them!) in two groups. The high school FFA chapters in the county would be our volunteers (over 200!); helping speak at the stations, pack the lunch bags with materials for the kids to take home, and guiding teachers through the stations so everything stayed on task. We got support from Farm Bureau and our local agribusinesses to provide equipment, materials for the lunch bags, and money to make sure this event was free for all students and the school system. We planned and worked and bit our nails and for the most part, it all came to fruition. We had a terrific day!
This year We Dig It Ag Day will be celebrating its 5th Anniversary. We’ll be hosting it at the farm again on March 15. I’ve had so many teachers and parents tell me this is their favorite field trip and the that the kids just love coming out to the farm. That’s what it’s really all about. We want to teach kids that farmers aren’t bad guys. We want to teach them that their food is grown in fields, not grocery stores. We want them to know the work and care that goes into growing that food. We want them to see the potential there for all different kinds of future careers, not just in farming but forestry and horticulture, and beekeeping. When they get older and they become voters, or maybe representatives themselves, we want them to think back on this trip and remember that without farms and farmers there would be no food. And most of all, we want them to come out and just enjoy a nice day on the farm. For more information about how you can get involved with We Dig It Ag Day contact Emily via her website.
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