AUTAUGAVILLE, Ala.—For more than sixty years, counties throughout Alabama have celebrated Farm City Week. Different events designed to bring rural and urban communities together happen throughout the state during the month of November. The 2016 Farm City Week theme is “Agriculture: Stewards of a Healthy Planet.”
Farm City Day Field Trip
Extension offices throughout the state are active participants in Farm City Week events. Autauga County Extension professionals traditionally host all of the students in a chosen grade for a hands-on, agriculture-oriented field trip. Extension professionals, in addition to 4-H participants and other local volunteers look forward to the day of interacting with students.
More than 500 sixth graders, from private and public schools, and 56 volunteers spent the day at the R.H. Kirkpatrick Agricultural Arena in Autaugaville, Alabama on Nov. 16.
Autauga County Extension Coordinator, Darrue Sharpe, said the event is exciting because it is an opportunity for children to spend time with knowledgeable volunteers in an environment where questions are encouraged.
“Hands-on education, especially in farming, is so important because a vast majority of the students do not have agricultural experience,” Sharpe said. “Farm City Day provides students the opportunity to pet live farm animals, see large tractors and learn about farming methods. Learning about opportunities in agriculture could lead to new career interests.”
Sharing Many Facets of Agriculture
Ten different booths with information on trapping and furs, tractor safety, aquaculture, stewardship, natural resource conservation, forestry, environmental management, honeybees, cattle, horses and goats, were set up throughout the arena. In addition, Auburn University Raptor Center shared information about six different raptors. Many of the raptors are common in Central Alabama.
Bart Williams, a local cattle producer and an application supervisor at Crop Production Services, spent the day manning a booth titled “What Does a Farmer Look Like?”
“It is important to have events like Farm City Day to educate students about agriculture,” Williams said. “In this day and age there are fewer farmers and a growing number of consumers with little access to agriculture. Any time farmers can educate children and adults about our chosen vocation is well worth the time.”
Lindsey Langford is a 10-year member of the Autauga County 4-H Horse Club. Langford said she loves taking part in the students’ learning experience.
“My favorite thing about helping with Farm City Day is letting students pet animals and watching the excitement on their faces,” Langford said. “Growing up on a farm, this is something I have always taken for granted. So many of the kids haven’t had the opportunity to pet a horse or a cow before today.”
Farm City in Alabama
Farm City Week is a time-honored tradition in Alabama. Celebrated in many different ways, Farm City Week serves as a bridge in communities that support local businesses and local farmers.
Sharpe said Farm City Day is a valuable resource to teach students about agriculture and the vital role farmers play in our community.
“I am hopeful Farm City Day will plant the seed of interest to give students a better knowledge and appreciation of our farmers,” Sharpe said.