Diane Prather: Education and fun intermingle at Ag Day

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Diane Prather

Approximately 175 fourth-graders and their teachers gathered April 26 at the Moffat County Fairgrounds to participate in Ag Day, an annual agriculture awareness event.

Sponsored by the Moffat County Cattlewomen, Ag Day’s purpose is to give students a chance to experience agriculture through exhibits and demonstrations, some of which were interactive.

This year, Sunset, Sandrock and Ridgeview elementary schools attended the event.

Students and teachers reported to the fairgrounds at appointed times — Sandrock and Ridgeview attended in the morning and Sunset in the afternoon.

Community/state volunteers and members of the Moffat County Cattlewomen, Moffat County Farm Bureau, and Moffat County High School FFA organizations helped out with the day’s events.

Morning and afternoon sessions began with a welcome.

At this time, students watched a video, “You Just Can’t Have an Ag-less Day.”

The video, produced years ago when Ag Day had its start, was updated this year.

It was re-done by members of Krista Schenck’s video production class at Moffat County High School.

After viewing the video, students were divided into groups, led by FFA members.

The groups rotated among a number of stations set up in three locations: the Pavilion, under the grandstands, and barn.

This year, the amount of time for each station remained about 10 minutes, but since more students attended at one time, there were more stations than in previous years.

At the Pavilion, fourth-graders found out what byproducts are made from farm animals.

They also participated in two safety demonstrations, presented by Richard Connell, regional manager and safety health coordinator for the Colorado Farm Bureau.

Connell talked about tractor roll-overs and safety around grain silos.

Just outside the pavilion, Paul Billig, range land specialist from the Craig Natural Resource Conservation Service office, led students through a demonstration on how water can change land.

A watershed table allowed students to investigate what happens if vegetation is added/taken away from land.

They also got to build a dam and note the results, such as the change in water current.

When it was time to go to the barn, students got a treat.

Waiting to take them to this next exhibit area was a wagon, hitched up to a John Deere tractor.

The tractor was lent to Ag Day by Tri-State Equipment, and the driver was Pat Duzik.

Kubotra machinery, lent by Rocky Mountain Machinery, and other John Deere machinery from Tri-State were also on display.

At the barn, Moffat County Brand Inspector Brad Ocker and retired Moffat County Brand Inspector Floyd Martin led a demonstration on branding.

Cattlewoman Becky Bowland showed fourth-graders horse tack, such as a bridle, and talked about horse care.

A horse was there for the kids to see.

There were other animals on display, too, including some lambs and miniature horses and Herefords.

Sarah Bacon and Bill and Donna Shue were on hand to answer questions about the animals.

Under the grandstand area of the fairgrounds, several presenters were ready to meet the fourth-graders.

Ramona Green talked about animal health care, which included the need for vaccinations, ear tagging, and lots of other areas.

Dave Watson presented a demonstration on ATV safety.

Stan Sjostron , Moffat County Farm Bureau president, demonstrated a “micro mini” hydroelectric plant with power to light a bulb.

And Kacey Green talked with students about the materials in the bags they would take home with them.

One booklet they received was “History of Cattle in Colorado,” and Kacey spent some time leading a discussion about differences about “the way it was then” (historically) and “how it is now” in such areas of cattle ranching as health care, feeding, and grazing.

Students received the bags of materials as they boarded the buses to go back to school.

A pizza lunch was served to all of the Ag Day volunteers before Sunset Elementary arrived for the afternoon session.

Reflecting on the day’s activities, Kacey Green, vice-president of the Moffat County Cattlewomen said, "I think the whole day was a success. I know teachers enjoyed having a little extra time, the weather cooperated, and I think we had good representation of historical and modern agriculture.”

And Stan Sjostron summed it all up.

"The Cattlewomen do a fantastic job," he said. "I was pretty impressed.”

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