Over 500 Grade 4/5 students had an Amazing Agriculture Adventure June 6-7 as Ag in the Classroom took over Brandon’s Keystone Centre.
Described as Agriculture in the Classroom Manitoba’s flagship event, the two-day workshop claimed more students, more teachers and more participating schools this year than in 2016.
Participation jumped by about a third over last year’s 378-student attendance, plus chaperons, 26 teachers (six more than 2016) and 14 schools, above last year’s 12.
“We had more participation from Brandon schools this year, which is great,” organizer Diane Mauthe said.
The number of schools participating and number of classes brought by each school varies from year to year, she said.
Eighteen stations showcased Manitoba’s farm industry over the two days. Students rotated between stations on 10-minute intervals.
“The kids were learning so much and they enjoyed it because it was experiential and interactive,” Mauthe said. “The students — when I asked, ‘What was your favourite?’ — a lot of them said the sheep station because there were live sheep there and most kids don’t get to see sheep very often.”
Potatoes, canola, farm equipment, chickens, pork, farm business, wheat, invasive species and environmentalism were also among the topics covered.
The event has marketed itself as complementary to existing school science programs.
“Various activities are centred around habitats and communities, rocks, minerals and erosion, maintaining a healthy body, properties of land, changes in substances, weather, forces and simple machines,” its website states.
“Everything that we offer to Grade 4s and 5s has links to their curriculum,” Mauthe said. “That is one of the main reasons teachers enjoy this program, because when they bring their students, it is often a review of what they learned in the school year or they can follow up afterwards with the resources we provide.”
Stations mirror curriculum in both topic and language, she added, using the example of a combine on display. Presenters at the combine station segued from its role in the harvest to gears and pulleys, included in Grade 5 mechanical studies.
“It’s a great teaching tool for the teachers, as well as us as an organization to teach them the use of a combine,” Mauthe said.
Presenters may vary from year to year depending on availability, although Mauthe noted that several industry partners consistently return.
Mauthe thanked the day’s 120 volunteers, including those provided by industry groups, as well as the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba, which provided a venue for the event despite crossover with Brandon’s Manitoba Summer Fair.
The Amazing Agriculture Adventure is held annually in Brandon in June and Richardson’s Kelburn Farm near Winnipeg in September. Biennial events are held in Russell in spring.