Gilmer Free Press
Agriculture Program Educates Elementary Students with Hands-On Activities
West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) Charleston staff visited elementary school classrooms in Kanawha, Monroe and Putnam Counties and staff based at Moorefield visited two local elementary schools in Grant and Hardy Counties in honor of National Agriculture Week March 13-20, 2011.
The goal of the visits was to improve the “agricultural literacy” of the Mountain State’s students.
“This program is helping young people learn the concept of what it takes to produce and protect America’s food supply,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Gus R. Douglass. “It is closing the gap of understanding and giving students a realization that food comes from somewhere other than the grocery store. And this being the Department’s centennial year gave staff the opportunity to share how agriculture has changed in the past 100 years.”
Charleston-area activities included “Ag Jeopardy,” a session about honeybees and their importance, and a session on germs and how to prevent getting sick. Students also enjoyed the WVDA’s highly popular “Bug Safari,” with WVDA Entomologist Dr. Berry Crutchfield, which teaches students about the importance of insects and lets them view live giant cockroaches.
“The Ag Week programs are always a highlight for the kids, and the teachers often say they learn a lot too,” said WVDA organizer Beth Southern. “The schools have been very cooperative in carving out time, and the staff members who go have a great time educating the students.”
Moorefield staff at Maysville Elementary demonstrated the importance of good hygiene with “Germ City: Clean Hands, Healthy People,” a science-based educational program intended improve the effectiveness and increase the frequency of hand-washing in both children and adults.
In Germ City, participants rubbed an invisible lotion on their hands that shows up under black light. They then washed their hands and walked into a tent with black lights to see how well they had done.
WVDA staff also read a story called “Extra Cheese Please! Mozzarella’s Journey from Cow to Pizza,” by Chris Peterson. The book was then donated to the Maysville Elementary Library. The students then had a hands-on experience making butter and mozzarella cheese.
Staff read “All in One Cookie” by Susan E. Goodman to first- and second-grade students at Moorefield Elementary. The book shows how ingredients from all over the world are brought together to finally become a cookie. The students were also given a small demonstration on the importance of farming. The Moorefield Elementary Library received seven books to add to its agriculture collection.
In addition, staff presented Moorefield Public Library and Petersburg Public Library with adult and children’s books about farming. Books donations were made possible by Chesapeake Bay Program funding.
How much do you know about agriculture in West Virginia? Test yourself with these questions:
1. How many farms does West Virginia have?
2. What percentage of farms in West Virginia are owned and operated by families?
3. What is West Virginia’s leading agricultural sector by sales?
4. What is the market value of West Virginia agricultural products sold in 2007?
5. What is the estimated market value of agricultural land and buildings in West Virginia?
6. How many farm-based businesses are listed in the 2008 agritourism directory?
7. Where does West Virginia rank nationally in apple production?
8. Where does West Virginia rank nationally in peach production?
9. How many beef cattle were raised in West Virginia in 2007?
10. What activities are the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) involved in on a daily basis?
1. According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, produced by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service – West Virginia Field Office (NASS-WV), West Virginia has 23,618 farms, a 13.5% increase over the 2002 Census and tenth best in the country.
2. West Virginia leads the nation in percentage of family-owned farms at 95.2%.
3. Poultry and eggs is the leading agricultural sector in West Virginia. It generated more than $300 million in sales in 2007. Eggs produced in West Virginia are used almost exclusively to produce chicks for the broiler (meat chicken) industry, not as table eggs. West Virginia ranked 16th nationally in broiler production.
4. West Virginia farmers produced nearly $600 million worth of agricultural goods in 2007.
5. West Virginia agricultural lands and buildings are valued at an estimated $8.8 billion.
6. There are 226 agritourism ventures listed in the 2008 agritourism directory. Visit a farm near you to learn about agriculture first-hand!
7. West Virginia ranked eighth in the nation in apples in 2007 with 80 million pounds produced.
8. West Virginia ranked 13th in peach production in 2007 with 4,200 tons produced.
9. West Virginia produced 420,000 beef cattle in 2007.
10. The WVDA is involved in far more than just “cows and plows.” Its stated mission is to protect plant, animal and human health and the state’s food supply through a variety of scientific and regulatory programs; to provide vision, strategic planning and emergency response for agricultural and other civil emergencies; to promote industrial safety and protect consumers through educational and regulatory programs; and to foster economic growth by promoting West Virginia agriculture and agribusinesses throughout the state and abroad.