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Farm Bureau hosts 'Ag in the Classroom'

By Westlee Walker
On April 10, 2014

The sounds of livestock and excited school children filled the arena April 8and 9 when the local branch of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation held the "Ag in the Classroom" event at Hyder-Burks Agriculture Pavilion for the 22nd year.

The event is free to attend for all first grade students in Putnam and Jackson County and gives students a chance to learn about the agriculture and safety. Children were also about to interact with cattle, sheep, horses and a zebra, a first for many in attendance.

This year's "Ag in the Classroom" hosted 1,100 first grade students who were given the chance to experience 27 different learning stations throughout the Hyder-Burks Agriculture Pavilion. Here students were able to learn about all facets of agriculture, ranging from livestock production, plant sciences, farm machinery safety and food safety.

"Two hundred and twenty five volunteers were needed each day, to make our program run effectively," said Phillip Baker, agency manager of the Putnam County Farm Bureau. "Our involvement with Tennessee Tech students and high school students enrolled in agriculture courses in Putnam County has been extremely beneficial for both parties. These students are closer in age, more energetic and can sometimes make a better connection with students than adults can. Many times, the Tech students are the ones teaching the individual learning stations.

"Our program is geared to be able to mesh with what is being taught in the classroom," Baker said. "We meet with members of the school board to coordinate the grade appropriateness and reliability."

"This is a great opportunity to expose these students to the importance of agriculture and food systems," said Dr. Stacy Tomas, program volunteer and assistant professor of agritourism. "Hopefully, this will allow students to garner a greater appreciation on where their food comes from, and for those who work to tirelessly to produce it."

"All of my students have a great time," said Allison Dudney, a teacher at Capshaw Elementary. "Farm Bureau provides this event for free, so this allows all of the students to be able to participate. This is really beneficial for those students who wouldn't have been able to attend otherwise."

For more information of Farm Bureau's "Ag in the Classroom" or for other events Farm Bureau hosts, please contact Phillip Baker at, or by phone at (931) 432-1571.

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