4th grade Ag Day returns in May

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Ag Day is back! After being canceled two years in a row, the agriculture awareness event for Moffat County fourth-graders is on again. Sponsored by the Moffat County Cowbelles, Ag Day will be held May 6 at the Moffat County Fairgrounds in Craig.

The objectives of Ag Day are to make children aware of the importance of agriculture and to let children experience agriculture through exhibits and presentations. This year’s theme is “You Just Can’t Have an Ag-less Day in Moffat County.”

Throughout the years, “Ag Day” has become a nickname for “Ag Expo.” The first “Ag Expo” was held more than 10 years ago. The event was “dreamed up” and developed by the Moffat County Cowbelles, but it took many volunteers from the agriculture community and 4-H and National FFA Organization members to make it happen.

About the time that Ag Day started, the Colorado CattleWomen were developing educational materials, coordinated with the basic elementary school curricula, to teach children about the beef industry, the environment and agriculture in general.

Julie Moore, nutrition and education director at the Colorado Beef Council, said that even before she started working for the council, people across the country decided that fourth grade was the year to teach state history. So when the Colorado CattleWomen wrote “Cattle in Colorado History,” they developed it for fourth grade. (Other educational materials were developed throughout the years, as well, not all of them for fourth grade.)

So, since the Cowbelles decided to use materials provided by the Colorado Beef Council, they “targeted” fourth grade. The annual event was planned for Moffat County fourth-grade students.

The first year, Ag Day was held in the fairgrounds pavilion and in the exhibit area under the grandstand. Even the sheep, used in a presentation, were put in pens in the grandstand exhibit area. After that first year, the fairground’s barn facility also was used for the event.

A special video, “You Just Can’t Have an Ag-less Day in Moffat County” was produced by Bill Engler and DeLaine Brown, was produced especially for Ag Day. It featured Moffat County agriculture and history.

Throughout the years, presentations have varied somewhat, but the schedule remains the same. Moffat County fourth-graders are brought to the fairgrounds by bus. Each school has its appointed time and spends one and a half hours at the fairgrounds. During the “Welcome,” students are divided into groups, each led by 4-H/FFA members and Cowbelle members.

The group leaders keep track of time so that all groups rotate from station to station and get to attend all of the presentations and exhibits.

Possibly the most anticipated part of Ag Day for the students is riding a tractor-pulled wagon that’s loaded with straw bale seats. The tractor driver picks up students, teachers and even principals and drives them to the barn. This year, when students walk through the barn, they’ll learn about branding from Moffat County Brand Inspector Brad Ocker and learn about horse care and about health care of beef animals from Ramona Green. They’ll also enjoy looking at farm animal exhibits.

After the allotted “barn time,” students will board the wagon again for a ride to the display area under the grandstand. Presentations and exhibits are still a work in progress in this area but may include a spinning demonstration.

The pavilion area of the fairgrounds will feature an “Ag Quiz Bowl,” led by Kacey Green. Small groups of students will use quiz bowl buzzers to compete in this mini contest, answering agriculture-related questions. Chris Rhyne will use a byproduct board display to make the fourth graders aware of the many byproducts that come from agricultural animals — from chewing gum to ice cream.

And by Ag Day, there’s apt to be a lot more. As they leave the fairgrounds, fourth graders will receive special bags of educational materials, including Colorado readers, “Cattle in Colorado History,” and others.

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