Ag Discovery Adventure may only be two years old, but the fall event is proving that education can be fun and it can attract lots of people.
Almost 1,300 people passed through the gates of E.V. Smith Research and Extension Center on a recent Saturday. Ag Discovery Adventure is a joint effort of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Auburn University College of Agriculture and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station
Dr. Lisa Kriese-Anderson, an Extension animal scientist, says the mild fall weather was a boost for the event.
“Our attendance this year is almost double of last year’s inaugural event,” she says. “Plus, the crowd was almost evenly split between adults and children.
Less than two percent of America's population now farms for a living. Less than 18 percent of the nation’s population lives in rural areas. Given these facts, Dr. John Fulton says it is understandable that most Americans are disconnected from agriculture.
Fulton, an Extension precision farming specialist, co-chaired the event with Kriese-Anderson.
“It is no wonder that so few people understand how crucial agriculture is to their quality of life and to our state's economic and physical well-being,” says Fulton. “Renewing that connection and enhancing people’s understanding of farming and current practices are our primary goals with Ag Discovery Adventure.”
This year’s Ag Discovery Adventure, featured GPS geocaching, insect scouting, a livestock area, cooking demonstrations and tours of the research fields at the E.V. Smith Center.
The game “Are You Smarter than a Farmer?”, a popular event last year, returned. Audience members used clickers to select the correct answers to agriculture-related questions.
Kriese-Anderson says the event is an important outreach tool of Extension and the Auburn University College of Agriculture.
“While the activities are fun and educational, the day is really about Extension professionals and researchers being able to talk with consumers about where their food comes from and where they need to go to find the facts about what they’re eating.”
Fulton adds that the College of Agriculture students contributed greatly to the success of the event.
“More than 150 students—about 10 percent of the College of Agriculture’s student body—came out to help with the day,” he says.
“ Our students recognize that they have to help people better understand agriculture. They also realize that the children who were digging sweet potatoes or petting a calf for the first time represent the next generation of farmers, scientists and Extension professionals.”
Ag Discovery Adventure is co-sponsored by the Alabama Cotton Producers, Alabama Soybean Producers, Alabama Wheat and Field Grain Producers, Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, Alabama Cattlemen's Association and Alabama Farmers Federation.
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