When the bus doors opened, thousands of local third-graders bounded down the stairs on a bright, sunny September day. They were greeted by students from Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences who were eager to teach them where their food comes from, how soil and irrigation techniques affect farming and ranching, and what is like to work with livestock and horses. This was the scene Sept. 28-29 at CSU’s Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center, or ARDEC, when 72 classrooms of third-graders from the Poudre School District took part in Ag Adventure.
For 15 years, groups of students have taken buses to ARDEC, a working research farm four miles north of the CSU campus, as part of Ag Adventure, a hands-on learning experience led by CSU students.
“I would say that this year’s Ag Adventure is as good as it has ever been,” said Marshall Frasier, a professor of agricultural and resource economics who is the faculty leader for Ag Adventure. “Working with these third-graders is an invaluable experience for our students, whether they are agricultural education majors, animal science majors or agricultural business majors. Without a doubt, the kinds of interactions that our students are leading with these third-graders cannot be taught in a classroom.”
Led by CSU students
Six learning centers were set up throughout the ARDEC complex, and students spent 20 minutes at each center before rotating to the next one. Stations covered topics such as fruits and vegetables, meat safety, farm safety, wool, horses, soil conservation and animal digestion. Ten CSU undergraduate students served on the committee that organized and executed Ag Adventure, and they were joined by many other students from across the college, including a number of student organizations.
Kat Rocha, a senior studying agricultural business and soil and crop sciences, helped lead one of the stations focused on soil and water. Rocha is vice president of the Agronomy Club and was excited that her club could take part in teaching the kids about soil.
“The Agronomy Club has been involved in Ag Adventure since the event began,” said Rocha. “We want the kids to get their hands dirty and to feel the soil that is such an essential part of agriculture.”
Agriculture up close
Both parents and teachers accompanied the elementary students to ARDEC, and many of the teachers were grateful that this experience is available to their students and is something that they can continue to discuss in the classroom throughout the year.
“Our students don’t always get to see agriculture up close like this,” said Becky Hunter, a teacher from Johnson Elementary School. “They are exposed to so many different aspects of agriculture, and many of them do not know where their food comes from and what agriculture is all about.”