Ag Day brings Moffat County students in touch with area history, economy | CraigDailyPress.com

Ag Day brings Moffat County students in touch with area history, economy

Fourth graders see, hear, touch examples of concepts they study in school

Michael Neary

— Kenleigh Pubanz emerged from this year's Moffat County Cattlewomen 4th Grade Ag Day with, among other things, some new knowledge about grain.

"It's used for fuel, and it's used for food, toothpaste, erasers, bubble gum and crayons," said Kenleigh, an East Elementary School fourth-grader, as she moved from one presentation to another on Thursday at the Moffat County Fairgrounds.

The long-running annual event taught, or reminded, children about all sorts of issues related to agriculture. Chris Rhyne, vice president of the Moffat County Cattlewomen, noted that the sorts of lessons that come from Ag Day correspond with what they're learning in class. She also mentioned another important ingredient of the day.

"First of all, we hope that they have fun," said Rhyne, who coordinated Ag Day. "We try to focus as much as possible on hands-on learning activities. It's somewhat limited on a day like day."

As Rhyne spoke, a morning snowfall was turning into a cold rain.

One station Rhyne mentioned illustrated the flow of water or different sorts of terrain — and also the effects of erosion.

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Ryan Zimmerman, one of more than a dozen Moffat County FFA students helping out with Ag Day, described during a break the sorts of concepts he tried to communicate with the students. He mentioned sediment transport, erosion, ground hydration and riparian zones.

Zimmerman, a Moffat County High School junior, was working with Jerry Magas, a district conservation technician with Colorado First Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

"The two agencies get together to help producers in Moffat County have what's available for conservation," he said. "We do a lot of the irrigation, and we also do development of springs, getting water to the livestock …"

Magas said students are often familiar, in a first-hand way, with the concepts that he and Zimmerman discuss.

"We've got a rural, Ag community here, so they're pretty sharp," Magas said.

Students learned about a number of other concepts as they moved through the Fairgrounds. Ramona Green and Jan Gerber, both members of the Moffat County Cattlewomen, talked about animal health. Green held up syringes of various sizes used to administer medicine, and she talked about the process of cattle giving birth.

Johnathan Lambert, a district wildlife officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, talked about biodiversity and habitat.

"We're talking about the different distinct life zones and different elevations, and talking about the critters you find," he said.

A new presentation this year focusing on fibers came from Valentine Enterprise Mohair Products and Yampa Valley Fiberworks.

"Animals have many roles in our lives, and the fiber provides us with clothes and blankets (and other materials)," said Judy Valentine. She and her husband Gary own Valentine Enterprise Mohair Products.

"There are many industries that the ag culture supports," said Susan Domer, volunteer with Yampa Valley Fiberworks, noting mills that produce yarn as one such example.

As the children moved from display to display, listening to the commentaries along the way, they were seeing, hearing and touching examples of the sorts of things they'd been absorbing in their classes.

"In fourth grade, our social studies standards deal with Colorado history, and a big part of that is the agriculture," said Stephanie Zimmerman, a Sunset Elementary School fourth-grade teacher. "So, when we have a field trip to Ag Day, we're able to see how it all applies."

And as fourth-graders trekked through the Fairgrounds on a wet day, they thought about what they'd seen — or felt. For Joselyn Moriel, an East Elementary School fourth-grader, the wool stood out.

"It was really soft," she said. "And you can make gloves out of it, wallets, blankets — all kinds of stuff."

Craig Mayor Ray Beck spoke to the group in the morning, and other sponsors and supporters included Yampa Valley Electric Association, the Little Snake Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, the Brand Inspection Division of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Critters R Us, U.S. Tractor & Harvest, Rocky Mountain Machinery and Jenny Counts.

Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or mneary@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.