By Sean Ellis
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
RIGBY – Every third grade class in the city attended the inaugural Rigby Ag Days event May 2, where students were taught the basics and importance of agriculture.
The event was a partnership between Jefferson County Farm Bureau and the Rigby FFA chapter.
Farm Bureau paid for the busing and helped teach the students about farming through the organization’s Moving Agriculture to the Classroom trailer.
Fifty Rigby FFA students helped organized the event and manned the various stations where about 600 third-graders from all the elementary schools in the city were introduced to farming and ranching.
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Regional Manager Tyrel Bingham said the whole event was designed around “allowing these third-graders to learn the importance of agriculture and how it applies to them in their lives.”
Casey Sanders, an agriculture teacher at Rigby High School, said it’s important to teach children “about agriculture now because in not too many years, these kids are going to be voting, they’re going to be making decisions and they are going to be deciding what careers they want to go into. Exposing them early to agriculture and the opportunities it provides them means we are going to have more informed constituents and policy makers in the future.”
Different stations were set up around the Rigby Fairgrounds where the students were taught about dairy, wheat and potato production, the use of drones and other technology in agriculture, irrigation, the truth about genetically modified crops and the importance of fertilizer.
The third-graders also learned about small and large animals, were introduced to veterinary science and were taught about tractor safety and how tractors are helping increase productivity for farmers.
“We’re just trying to teach the kids about a side of agriculture they might not have seen or known about before,” said Rigby FFA student Tad Nelson, the event’s lead organizer. “They may see tractors going around the field but they don’t usually see how things are working together in agriculture or understand why agriculture is so important.”
Lex Godfrey, an FFA advisor and ag teacher at Rigby High School, said the event provides a valuable opportunity to reach these youngsters with basic facts about agriculture and its importance to them and the community.
“In 1850, 50 percent of our population had a direct tie to agriculture. Today, that number is less than 2 percent,” he said. “We have an opportunity here to reach a growing generation, future leaders and decision makers, about the impact and importance of agriculture.”
He said the event is also provides a valuable teaching experience for FFA students, who get to put what they are learning to practice and pass that knowledge on.
“As part of our curriculum, each student is required to have a supervised agriculture experience, an FFA project,” Godfrey said. “The magic of today is that those students that have those projects are bringing them here and exposing third-graders to their future opportunities. It’s awesome.”
Rigby High School ag teacher Robert Hale said third-graders were chosen for the event because “they’re talking about community and ties to their community in their third grade curriculum and it’s also right when they get involved with 4-H a lot of times.”