By Andrew Edwards
Farm City Week came to a close on Wednesday afternoon with the conclusion of the Fall Landowners tour. The tour provided attendees with a myriad of information about wildlife in Alabama, such as bird watching, timber management, rights/rules in regards to bodies of water, and much more.
However, the week kicked off on Tuesday with “Farm City Day”, an event that took place at R.H. Kirkpatrick Arena in Autaugaville. Over 700 sixth graders from Autauga County came out the event and had the opportunity to learn about various agricultural techniques and information.
Prattville Intermediate, Billingsley, Daniel Pratt Elementary, Autauga Academy, and Marbury Middle were the schools that attended the event, said Darrue Sharpe, county extension coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
“We’ve been putting this event on for upwards of 15 years now. It’s a national week that’s used to recognize farmers and agriculture. We do it as a free field trip for them, and it’s an educational experience that teaches them about forestry, fishery, cotton ginning. We have the young famers from Alfa here, the doziers from forestry and even live animals for the kids to see,” Sharpe said.
The point of the event, Sharpe said, is to bring in urban kids and expose them to an agriculture and farming environment.
“We think that this is a great opportunity to learn career paths in something like, say forestry. Some children may not even know what that is, and don’t realize that you don’t have to necessarily be a farmer to go into agriculture we try to introduce them and give them a taste of every little aspect of agriculture,” said Sharpe.
As the 700 plus students arrived inside the arena and took their seats, they were greeted by a raptor show that introduced them to various types of birds that inhabited different parts of the United States – such as the Mississippi Kite, Barred Owl, Harris Hawk a vulture. The students had a chance to see some of the animals up close, such as the owls, but had to stay further away from larger birds like the hawk and vulture.
After the raptor show, the ACES was presented with a $2,000 check from Midsouth RC&D.
“This is a free field trip for the students, but it can be expensive to pay for the buses and some of the other expenses. But we know how important it is to get these kids out here, so we’re always going to do everything in our power to get the event running. We do really appreciate Midsouth for working with us on this one,” said Sharpe.
To cap the afternoon, the children had a chance to walk around to various stations that were set up around the arena. There were 10 different stations: young farmers, gardening/decomposition, cotton, chemical safety, forestry, steers, tractors/hay, bees, fishery and horses – all of which provided their own unique information.
Also, in attended was state representative Will Dismukes, who helped present the check and volunteered to assist with each station’s demonstrations.
“These kids are the future and it’s important for them to learn the need for agriculture. We’re so blessed that ACES is able to put this on every year,” Dismukes said.
Farm City Day 2019 did exactly what it was supposed to do – to provide area sixth graders with knowledge about agriculture that they may have not previously known about. However, with its hands on and interactive shows, the event also created memories that will last with the children forever.
Don’t forget to attend the Farm City Banquet that will be held on November 21st.
Tickets only $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Learn more: www.prattvillechamber.com