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Agriculture Education Takes Root at Annual Farm Day Event

On May 23, 2024, the Byron-Bergen Elementary School grounds transformed into an outdoor agricultural education classroom for the annual Farm Day celebration. Jr./Sr. High School students who participate in FFA or study agriculture in science classes volunteer to spend the day teaching the younger students about where their food comes from. The goal of the event, which began four years ago, is to introduce elementary students to the agricultural community in which they live and to spark their interest in pursuing advanced agricultural studies in high school. And it’s working.
The fourth annual Farm Day boasted 22 student volunteers, double the number from last year. In its first year, Farm Day was only for kindergarten students and the information was presented by adults from the community. As the event expanded, older students stepped into the instructional roles.  
“It’s significant to see the high school students sharing their animals, knowledge, and interest in agriculture with the elementary students,” said Byron-Bergen Elementary Principal Kristin Loftus. “The younger students can see themselves as Farm Day presenters in a couple years, and they’re excited about it.”   
“I think today was really interesting!” said fifth-grade student Adalin Davidson. Davidson was not raised on a farm but is “definitely” planning to join the FFA and study agriculture in high school.
According to Jr./Sr. High School Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor Jeff Parnapy, the increase in student Farm Day volunteers reflects the increased participation in agriculture education in the district. 
“This year we really started to see the effects,” said Parnapy. “Participation in the FFA has doubled. Enrollment in the higher-level agriculture classes has doubled. I hope these young people will participate when they get to high school, too.”
Tenth-grade Farm Day volunteer and FFA member Grace Mundell agrees that the opportunity to learn about agriculture has shaped her future plans. Although she was not raised on a farm, she hopes to live on one someday.
“I joined the FFA in eighth grade and I always had an interest in animals,” said Mundell. “I had friends in FFA who got to do a bunch of cool stuff so I decided that would be a good way for me to learn, too.”
Farm Day 2024 included presentations on cereal grains, animal feeds, maple syrup production, the history of the FFA, planting and growing sunflowers, and dozens of animals including cows, horses, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, pigs, rabbits, rats, and chinchillas.  

Special thank you to the STEP Booster Club for providing an agricultural-themed sheep toy for each of the students. 
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