Children from around Central Oregon got to learn about farming and other aspects of agriculture March 22 at the Deschutes County fairgrounds.
The third annual Central Oregon Agriculture Field Day is put on by Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom, which has events around the state and provides free curriculum to teachers, who share it with 200,000 students, said Jessica Jansen, director of the nonprofit, which is based at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
The classes seek to give students a basic agriculture literacy, Jansen said.
“Just having an understanding of what agriculture is,” she said. “Just having an appreciation for the diversity of Oregon agriculture, an understanding of what’s all around them here in Central Oregon.”
The students learn about subjects like irrigation, forestry and plant germination, while getting to honk the thunderous horn of a combine and make ice cream, said Rachel Noble, office manager for Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom.
The event is held in partnership with the FFA, which had its state convention March 22-24 at the fairgrounds. “It’s kind of the kickoff of the FFA convention,” Jansen said. “They have the building rented all day, so we might as well get things started and get some students in here.”
Some of the 2,000 FFA students led the classes at the 13 stations in the High Desert Activity Center.
“I love the kind of full-circle effect that happens when the high school students teach the third-through-fifth graders,” Jansen said. “They really do a great job of helping the students be enthusiastic about agriculture.”
The students take turns switching between 13 stations, where they get a 20-minute tutorial on an agricultural subject.
Students attended the event from elementary schools in Bend, Sisters, Powell Butte and Metolius. Government, nonprofit and business organizations taking part included the Oregon State University Extension, Ag West Supply, the Central Oregon Irrigation District, Oregon AgLink and Discover Your Forest, Noble said.
Noticeably absent were Redmond School District elementary students. District spokesman Rainier Butler said the home district didn’t participate because elementary conferences were March 22.
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