A junior high teacher in a primarily agricultural community asks her morning class, “How many of you think agriculture affects you?”
Very few students raised their hands. Hopes are though after her class attended the Agriculture Awareness and Appreciation Day sponsored by the Olton Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, if asked the question again, the students would respond with a unanimous, “Yes!”
Friday, Sept. 14, businesses such as Western Equipment, the High Plains Underground Water District, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Tech University and local irrigation companies, visited with students from Olton, Springlake-Earth and Sudan about the importance of agriculture.
“I want them to understand agriculture affects them, even if all you do is eat and wear clothes,” says Olton Junior High teacher Nikki Smith. Smith created a questionnaire for her students to complete, listing specific questions the students were to ask each presenter.
Smith, who got her bachelor’s degree in Range and Wildlife Management from Texas Tech University prior to her teaching certificate, says, “I also want them to see there are different things you can do in agriculture — it’s not just farming and raising cattle.”
A desire to reach and teach the younger generation fueled the idea for Chamber Manager Adrienne Synatschk, to organize the event.
“There are a lot of different aspects to agriculture many kids don’t know about. I’m hoping they’ll learn food does not magically show up in a grocery store but that there are seeds farmers plant in the ground which need fertilizer and rain or water, which we are pumping out of the Ogalalla Aquifer.”
Katherine Drury, High Plains Underground Water District education and outreach coordinator, says she had one goal for the day, “I want the kids to know the name of their aquifer.” Drury had each group of students say the name out loud in unison, “Ogalalla Aquifer.” She also talked to them about simple ways they can help conserve water at home.
Angie Pierce, a Sudan Elementary science and social studies teacher and farmer’s wife, says she hopes her students gain a better understanding of the importance of the farm.
“I hope they take away that agriculture is an important part of the economy and hopefully it gives them insight into how much work our farmers put into producing the crop and providing for our world.”
When asked what Sudan fifth grader Westen Cannon learned from the Ag Awareness and Appreciation Day, he says he learned something new from Lamb County Electric.
“I learned if a power line falls on your truck, to jump out with both feet and roll away from the truck, and not to step out with one foot," he says. "I also learned that corn is used to feed cattle and us.”
As for Olton sixth grader Elijah Perez, he says before the ag day, he didn’t know water came from underground. He says he also learned ways to better conserve water, “Don’t take long showers or leave the faucet running while you are washing your hands.”
I’d say, Drury, with the HPWD reached her goal.