AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—The Autauga County Farm-City field trip was back on track for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. For many years, the Autauga County Extension office has hosted an all-day educational field trip to help local students learn about agriculture.
For the first time since 2019, sixth-grade students gathered again for the biggest and most diverse group of agricultural presenters since the program’s inception. Autauga County Extension Coordinator Darrue Sharpe said the program is her favorite program in the county and is something she looks forward to every year.
“Before my time, the field trip was for kindergarteners and third graders,” she said. “When I became coordinator, we changed the age to sixth graders and have been pleasantly surprised by their excitement and their genuine interest in learning about agriculture and its many facets.”
Farm-City Field Trip 2021
Sharpe’s team partners with the Alabama Forestry Commission, Alabama Young Farmers, the Auburn University (AU) poultry science department, the AU biosystems engineering department, Extension Master Gardeners and the AU school of fisheries and aquatic sciences, as well as local producers, livestock owners, apiculturists and 4-H and FFA volunteers.
The day is a community-wide effort to educate students on a variety of topics related to agriculture.
“We live in a time when many children and families are removed from agriculture, and don’t have access to hands-on knowledge on a regular basis,” Sharpe said. “This field trip provides students an opportunity to interact with both agricultural researchers who work daily to improve the agricultural sector and individuals who live and work on farms.”
The field trip kicked off with the Southeastern Raptor Center’s raptor show. Then students watched chicks hatch in real time, moved kinetic sand to create topographic changes with an Xbox360 map projection, learned about composting and had hand hands-on opportunities with fish, cattle, horses, pigs, bees, tractors, cotton products and forestry equipment.
Sixth-grade teacher Samantha Wood said the Farm City Field Trip was a fun experience for both her and her students.
“The interactive environment allowed the kids to get up close and personal with animals and equipment that they may never have encountered before the event,” she said. “It was also a unique opportunity for students to hear from local farmers and industry professionals about their specific area of agriculture.”
Wood, who teaches at Autauga Academy in Prattville, said her students left with a more thorough knowledge of how agriculture affects their daily lives.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has offices in every county in the state. Opportunities for community involvement in programming are readily available, but may vary by location. Contact your local Extension office for more information.