MSU helps kids understand agriculture and natural resource sciences

The MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center provides a showcase for elementary students to learn about agriculture science.

All photos by Renee Leow, Marquette Conservation District.

All photos by Renee Leow, Marquette Conservation District.

“Agripalooza” is an annual event organized by the Alger Conservation District and the Marquette Conservation District. Fourteen schools from the area participated in the event on Sept. 26, 2014, sending a total of 400 third through fifth grade students and 74 adult chaperones and teachers to the MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center. The participants visited over 20 learning stations staffed by agricultural and natural resource management professionals.

They learned about agronomy and vegetable production, soil science, water quality, wildlife management, forestry, entomology, livestock management, invasive species and more. A hayride to see grazing cattle and calves was a favorite activity. The students and adults learned how a beef cow has a calf each year and how the calves are raised on a pasture and eat grass just like their mothers. Michigan State University Extension professionals were included in the mix of presenters, along with staff from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, local conservation districts and the Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy.

Opportunities for youth to see agricultural operations first-hand in the Upper Peninsula region are somewhat scarce. The only Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter in the region, Agripaloozalocated in Stephenson, Michigan, was recently discontinued. On a brighter note, many local school districts have put up hoop houses, engaging students in plant science activities. In some cases, hoop house vegetable and salad products move right into the school cafeteria.

MSU Extension 4-H clubs scattered across the region also provide opportunities for non-farm kids to participate in plant and animal science-related projects. Schools, conservation districts and other organizations occasionally sponsor events including agriculture learning opportunities for youth. Farm tours, including the MSU Extension Breakfast on the Farm program, provide a great way for kids to learn about sound farming practices and get a positive on-farm experience. If you farm, consider working with a local school or organization to offer kids the opportunity to see agriculture in person.

Agripalooza is a great event, reaching lots of kids with a positive agriculture and natural resource message. MSU Extension is proud to be a partner.

For more information, contact Jim Isleib at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).