Sporting her cowgirl hat and boots, Abe Hubert Elementary School first-grader Aubree Peck was a little uncertain about throwing a lasso Friday during the school’s Ag Day.
But with some encouragement from her classmates, Aubree was all smiles and launched the rope toward the steer prop.
Lassoing was just one of several stations set up during the event, and each one had a common theme — agriculture.
“Agriculture drives our economy here in Garden City. Agriculture is Garden City, and it’s important that kids make that connection — that they know what’s driving our economy,” said Denna Welch-Haney, science teacher at Abe Hubert.
Friday was the first time the school has hosted an Ag Day, Welch-Haney said. The Finney County Farm Bureau Association sponsored the event.
Welch-Haney said there’s a good chance that if students remain in the community when they’re older, they’ll most likely be in a workforce connected to agriculture. With that in mind, students need to know that agriculture is more than just growing crops.
“You look at the implement, and the mechanic, technology, and computer science that goes into that — those are all careers in agriculture,” she said. “Kids won’t know those jobs are available if we don’t tell them or don’t show them what’s available for them.”
Welch-Haney said it’s never too early to expose children to different career paths.
“You never never know what’s going to stick with them and what’s going to make that spark that drives them to go into that field or pursue something,” she said. “It’s very important to plant that seed at a very early age.”
Jennifer Gerber, county coordinator for the association, said the organization hosts Ag Day to educate students.
“One of the main reasons we want to do this is because we are in the heart of agriculture in southwest Kansas,” she said. “We need to understand and appreciate the importance of agriculture. Every day, we truly take for granted where we get our food and our clothes.”
Gerber said there are also some students attending schools in Garden City who hail from other countries, so Ag Day can be an eye-opener for them.
In the parking lot at the school, students were able to use a lasso and take an up close look at a tractor that American Implement provided.
Inside the gymnasium, there were several stations, such as the Finney County Extension office’s pumpkin measuring station, where students measured the diameter and height of pumpkins and gourds.
Third-grader Thomas Vallejo-Hernandez said he wanted pumpkin pie after being around the pumpkins.
Garden City Community College’s Collegiate Farm Bureau team had a farm-to-plate station.
“Even though we’re in an ag-based community, we have children who are very uneducated about agriculture,” Cindy VenJohn, Collegiate Farm Bureau sponsor said. “Milk and bread doesn’t come from the grocery store. There’s a lot more to it than that.”
The collegiate group’s station was explained the process of getting beef from the pasture to the dinner table.
VenJohn said the group is hoping to add a dairy element to its presentation for the next Ag Day.
“Because with the dairy industry growing in our community so much, we need to educate,” she said.
The event also included live animals, such as ducks and rabbits, that students were able to hear facts about.
Cesar Morales, a third-grader at Abe Hubert who was wearing a fake mustache to go along with the school’s Western Day theme on Friday, said his favorite part of Ag Day was seeing and learning about the animals.
Welch-Haney said she hopes Ag Day is something that continues every year at the school, adding that she enjoys seeing the children having fun while learning.