PHOTO: Matt Barton, UK Agricultural Communications
Thousands of students came together all in the name of agriculture during the recent University of Kentucky Agricultural Field Day.
The field day, now in its 47th year, attracts some of the best and brightest middle school and high school students interested in pursuing agricultural-related majors and careers. This year, more than 1,800 students from 86 schools came to Lexington to network with each other as well as UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment students and professors. They had the chance to participate in the college’s opportunity fair and also competed in various 4-H and FFA contests with the winners taking home prizes and scholarships.
“The culture of 4-H and FFA in Kentucky is strong,” said Sarah Caton, event co-organizer and computer support specialist in the Department of Community and Leadership Development. “It sets students up to succeed in college, in post-graduate life and their careers in agriculture. It’s also our chance to give back to the organizations that invest in our youth.”
Caton organized the event with Stacy Vincent, UK assistant professor of agricultural education, along with students from the college. Ashley Leer, a first year graduate student under Vincent and Associate Professor Rebekah Epps, plans to one day be an agriculture teacher taking her students to events like this.
“Working the field day has really made me appreciate ag contests more as an ag teacher, because you never realize how much work, organization and effort goes on behind the scenes,” she said. “As a future ag teacher, this helped me to better understand how to prepare students and how to be grateful for all of the organizations of which we are a part.”
This statement rang true for Ashley Rogers. A 2015 UK agricultural education graduate, Rogers brought her students from Nicholas County to the field day as the school system’s FFA advisor.
“This is one of my favorite events to bring my kids to,” she said. “This is an educational experience as well as a social experience for them. They get to meet people from all across the state, and they get to interact with advisors with the College of Ag and at UK. They learn a little bit as they go about the day and have a little fun too.”
Two of Rogers’ students, Landry Gray and Brady Switzer, both eighth-graders, attended the field day to get competition experience as they demonstrated how a hydraulic arm worked during a technology competition. It was also a chance for them to see the campus as both are interested in coming to UK and potentially major in an agriculture-related field.
“Our college plays a unique role in allowing students from all points in Kentucky to step foot on campus; open their eyes to a world of possibilities; and identify that their flagship university is here to serve them,” Vincent said. “The field day event is a great reflection of our land-grant mission.”
Sarah Caton, 859-257-4273; Stacy Vincent, 859-257-7588