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A hands-on ag experience

Badger students Chad Jones (left) and Brandy Sheppard (right) show off their chickens during Agriscience Day at the school last week.

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October 12, 2011 | 08:16 AM
Badger High School's agriculture program is one of the best in the state. On Friday, leaders and students showed exactly why.

Dozens of local third-graders watched and interacted with wonder as High School students showed them different types of fish, how to plant, what a soybean and different types of corn look like, how a beekeeper works, and let them pet and learn about goats, chickens, pheasants, cows and miniature horses.

It was the department's seventh Agriscience Day, an activity led by ag teachers Larry Plapp and Candice Olson.

"We are getting further away from our food supply," Plapp said Friday during the event. "There are so many components of agriculture and it is important kids have an understanding and appreciation for where the food they eat comes from."

As students from Eastview, Central-Denison and Star Center elementary schools visited six different stations, they learned about things from soil and tilapia to beehives and honey. Olson said agriculture affects the students on a daily basis.

"We show them the big picture of life," Plapp said. "This is a lifelong learning piece and we hope they make some connections."

About 60 Badger students helped make Agriscience Day a success. Olson said it takes many hours over a few weeks to prepare for the event. She said students must collect their supplies and come up with lessons.

"It is a lengthy process," Olson said. "There were a lot of late nights all week, but it is fun to see the kids come together."

Senior Tyler Schutte said he may someday want to be a teacher. He also is interested in biotechnology. He appeared to be enjoying working with the children, showing them and talking about different types of fish.

"I like to help out with the little kids," he said.

Schutte and freshman Jonathan Hibbard were showing the youngsters the differences between fish. The students also were able to touch a live 2-year-old tilapia that Hibbard held.

Seniors Shanna Mercier and Kayla Lauderdale also were enjoying their time in the greenhouse with the children. They were talking about soil and plants. At the station, the grade school kids packed their own small pots with soil and planted a flower in each.

Those plants were then given to the teachers so the students could later take them home. At the station, the ag students also talked to the young ones about the five things plants need to grow — water, sun, soil, nutrients and carbon dioxide.

"I just love seeing the little kids with a smile on their face," Mercier said. "I think they really do learn stuff here."

Lauderdale said she would have loved the opportunity to attend Agriscience Day when she was a third-grader.

"I never got to do this," she said. "This is so hands on, you don't lose their attention.

Olson said it is key the lessons are valuable to the students.

She said each year, they ask the grade school teachers what they thought of the lessons. In some schools, third graders are learning about geology and in others, the students are involved in worm composting.

"We want to make sure it is valuable because time is so valuable," Olson said.

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Walworth County