April 22, 2003 | By: Haven Miller
BENTON, Ky.

On a recent sunny Tuesday several bus loads of Marshall County fourth-graders spent part of their day at a farm just outside Benton.  The students saw bees making honey, learned about corn and soybeans, petted goats and llamas, and milked a mechanical cow.

It was all part of the Youth Ag Field Day, an event designed to help youth learn about how food is produced, and how to preserve the environment.

“It’s something a lot of the kids don’t have the opportunity to see and do, and it makes me feel good to see them here,” said farm owner Wavil Joseph.  He and his wife have provided the Field Day site for 12 years.

During the event, students are divided into small groups.  Each group goes to a specific station, such as “dairy & milk,” “wildlife habitat,” “grains,” or “animals & farm machinery.”  Every 15 minutes each group moves to the next station.  The idea is to introduce youth to a variety of agricultural enterprises and processes that impact their lives.

“Agriculture affects them all kinds of ways – the food they eat, the clothes they wear, and a lot of the children don’t understand that,” said Michele York with the Marshall County Conservation District. “Even though they may not live on a farm they need to know what farmers do and how the ag industry affects them.”

The Field Day is a cooperative effort involving the Joseph family, the County Conservation District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency, the Marshall County Co-op, the county’s Young Farmers Association, and the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

“We help out by communicating with the schools, letting teachers know about it, and we also recruit 4-H teen club members to be group leaders,” said Lena Mallory, UK Cooperative Extension agent for 4-H/youth development.  “This fits into our Extension mission very well because we want to provide educational programs to the public about agriculture and environment.”

Presenters for the different topics are volunteers from local agribusinesses, and local and state agencies.

“It’s definitely a group effort, and we couldn’t put on the Youth Ag Field Day without our volunteers,” said Mallory.