Ag Days events connect kids to local agriculture
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LAKE COUNTY — Fourth graders throughout the county gathered on May 3 and 4 to learn about the area’s biggest industry at Mission Valley Ag Days.
Hosted by Northwest Counties Farm Bureau and the Lake County Conservation District with the Western Montana Stockmen’s Association, over 300 students from Ronan, Polson, Dixson, Charlo and more came to Senecal Ranch to visit the 12 stations each covering a different aspect of agriculture. Everything from learning about the ranch’s livestock to learning about Pollinators to grinding grain to make flour to raising potatoes with Susan Lake was presented on.
“We’re just trying to get the kids exposed to a lot of what we do in the valley … we’re so disconnected from agriculture, where our food comes from, that it’s our best attempt to kind of show kids what’s happening in ag world,” Lake commented. “The kids have fun, and it gets them outside, and it’s nice to have them out there. We need to do more because people have gotten so far from what their roots are.”
Students from Future Farmers of America (FFA) attended to assist as well, one of the youth agricultural programs in the valley. FFA is a program aimed at students in late middle school and older and aims to “provide a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education,” according to their website. With a goal of helping students explore their interests in a broader range of agricultural pathways, the FFA website states they’re not only creating future farmers, but future biologists, chemists, veterinarians, engineers, and entrepreneurs as well.
4H is another agriculture program in the area that serves kids of a broader age range through hands on educational projects, club meetings, community service, and events. The goal of 4H, according to their website, is to help students attain five life skills: fostering positive self-concept, learning decision making and responsibility for choices, developing an inquiring mind, relating to self and others, and acquiring a concern for communities both local and global.
“The opportunities kids get with both of those programs are extraordinary,” Lake said.
To learn more about the programs or sign a student up, visit the Montana FFA at: www. montanaffa.org and the Lake County 4H program at: www.montana.edu/extension/lake/index.html
“One percent of the population feeds everybody,” Lake stated. “We have to take of our environment to make our agriculture work, and we’d really like people to understand that. We want people to know we care about what we do. We take care of our livestock, we take care of our land, and quite frankly then it takes care of everybody else. The other thing about agriculture is 1% of the population does that so everybody else can do what they do.”