AG LITERACY DAY was held April 21, and our local FFA chapters spent their day educating Polk County elementary students on Florida’s livestock and poultry industries. The story was narrated by an old truck, Ole’ Red, that took the readers on a road trip throughout the state of Florida visiting different farms and learning about the history of the animals.
Haines City FFA members Jennifer Mizell, Megan Kachmarik, Martie Stafford, Heather Hill, Laura Hill and I read, for the second year in a row, to the students at Dundee Elementary Academy. We did different activities for each grade level that went along with the book. For kindergarten we made sheep; first-graders colored a coloring page from the book, and the class with the best work won a popsicle party! Second grade and third grade received book marks with a quiz on the back, and fourth-graders played a memory review game.
Before I started reading to each class, I would ask the same question: “Who can tell me what agriculture is?” Just as I expected, not a single student would raise their hand. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal to some people, this opened my eyes about our future. This is our upcoming generation and agriculture is the backbone of America. With the population growing so rapidly, how are they expected to feed us if they don’t even know anything about agriculture? That is the reason why I participate in these types of activities, and why I want to go into the agriculture education field. I use every chance possible to educate others on the industry that I love. I often wonder, if I don’t participate in days like Ag Literacy Day, will these students ever be exposed to the industry that feeds them?
Bailey Buchanon, member of Lake Gibson FFA, enjoys being able to educate young students about something she is passionate about. “I hope that one day they will share the same passion I do,” states Buchanon. President of Auburndale FFA, Theresa Yohn, says she had a wonderful time keeping the kids captivated and involved in the story.
The Lake Wales FFA Chapter read to Janie Howard, Hillcrest, and Babson Park elementary schools. Harley Byrd and Codie Sailor read to fourth-graders and loved getting the opportunity to spark an interest in the students’ lives.
I feel as though we FFA members are some of the few influences our younger generations will receive on the agriculture industry, and we need to use every opportunity possible to make a great impact and ignite a passion into these students’ lives. When I was in elementary school, I remember having high school students come to our class to give a presentation and when they would leave, I would say to myself, “I want to be just like them when I grow up.” You never know what little boy or girl is sitting in the audience watching you and wishing they could be like you, and you never know the impact you will make on their life.
As you start to enjoy your summer vacation, I encourage everyone to share with someone (a cousin, neighbor, or stranger in the grocery store) something interesting about agriculture that can relate to that person’s everyday life. While you are taking part in this activity and ag-vocating, don’t forget to thank a farmer!
article by ABBY CRAWFORD
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abby is the president of the Haines City High School FFA chapter as well as the voice behind 97 Country’s segment, “Ag Time with Abby,” which airs the first Friday of every month during the Breakfast Club with Roger and Melissa. Abby is also the 2014 Polk County Farm Bureau Youth Speech Contest Winner. For questions, FFA news, or FFA story ideas, email Abby at firstname.lastname@example.org.