November 16, 2005 | By: Aimee Nielson

grinding wheat into flour...

Most elementary-age students put pizza on their favorite foods list. A traveling hands-on learning program is teaching students the importance of agriculture by starting with pizza’s first ingredient – soil.

Organizers of “Agriculture Adventures: Kentucky” recently spent a week in Clark County teaching the importance of agriculture to more than 2,600 students. The program is presented by COSI on Wheels, of Columbus, Ohio.

“In the (beginning) assembly, we teach them that their food all comes from the soil,” said Rori Preston, outreach demonstrator for COSI and Chef Parmesan to students. “So we’re making pizza, but we start from the soil. It’s important to teach them this because a lot of kids don’t realize they can’t just go to the grocery store and pick up some food; it actually has to come from somewhere. It’s a good thing to teach them that farms are important and all the things they do for us.”

Roy Turley, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension agent for 4-H youth development in Clark County, said one of his 4-H volunteer leaders heard about the program and wanted to get Clark County involved. Turley and other 4-H leaders applied for and were awarded a $5,000 grant through the Clark County Community Foundation to carry out the program in the county’s schools.

“A lot of these young boys and girls do not have the exposure to or the opportunity in agriculture,” he said. “We’re bringing them into a setting like this, where they get to have their hands in the soil to test the Ph. They get to look at the animals and food products that come from agriculture. They get to imitate milking a cow. These are things they may not another opportunity to do again in their lifetime, except book-wise in a middle school or high school classroom.”

woman talking to child holding bucket

and what it takes to be a farmer.

With assistance from Derby the Horse, the program mascot, Preston taught students about every facet of agriculture that takes place before the students can have a slice of pizza. Afterwards, the students rotated through six stations for hands-on activities such as milking a cow, grinding wheat into flour, testing soil, sowing seeds and learning where food products fit into the Food Guide Pyramid.

“It’s very rewarding if you’re there that one moment when a child gets something that maybe they didn’t know before – that ‘a-ha’ moment,” she said. “At each station they are doing things hands-on. We want them to be questioning things and figuring things out on their own.” 

The program is aligned with Kentucky’s Core Content for Science Assessment, which provides administrators, teachers and students with a structure on which to build from year to year. It also provides a consistent curriculum so that all students in a grade level will be learning the same topics. COSI also works to ensure programs align with National Science Standards.

Turley believes the interactive program is not only a good tool for learning about agriculture, but also for developing other traits in students.

“Reaching all boys and girls…what an opportunity for leadership,” he said. “Hopefully some of these boys and girls will be our leaders in the future. Obviously only 1 percent of the population is feeding all the others. A few of these young boys and girls may consider becoming a farmer. Obviously, the communications skills they gain here are great and they also learn citizenship skills and just the knowledge of dealing with products.”

“Agriculture Adventures: Kentucky” is reaching more than 25 Kentucky counties during the 2005-2006 school year. It is funded by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, West Kentucky Growers Co-op, Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom Inc., Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association and the Kentucky Pork Producers.


Writer: Aimee Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: Roy Turley 859-744-4682