Hello, Ashtabula County! Last Friday almost 1,100 members of the class of 2025 descended on the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds to participate in Ashtabula County’s “Ag Day.” This program was sponsored by OSU Extension and the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau with the goal of educating first graders on where their food comes from and to showcase all the different types of agricultural commodities which are being grown in Ashtabula County.
This is the third year for this program and I think it gets better every year! During this interactive day, students were able to get up close and personal with farm animals, crops, fruits, and vegetables at twelve interactive stations relating to our county’s agriculture. We were delighted the threat of rain held off until after the program concluded. This made for a beautiful day for the kids to visit the stations scattered across the fairgrounds.
During the day, the 1st graders learned about all the different types of farm animals in our county. During their day, they got to learn more about dairy cows, sheep, horses, beef cows, goats, pigs, alpacas, chickens, ducks, and turkeys. Each student was able to make their own home-made butter and try their hand at milking a cow. Best of all, every student received a great chocolate milkshake from the Ashtabula County Holstein Club. I saw a lot of milkshake mustaches!
The youth also learned how seeds are planted to give us an array of tasty fruit and vegetables. They also learned how these fruits and vegetables are processed into foods that we enjoy. For instance, they learned how cucumbers are transformed into pickles and how tomatoes are turned into ketchup, salsa and spaghetti sauce. They also learned about root crops like carrots and potatoes and how grains are made into bread.
They also learned how honeybees are important to agriculture, touch and smell fresh Christmas trees, learn how Miscanthus grass can be made into paper products, and learn how Maple Syrup is produced. Each class was also given maple syrup and honey sticks to taste this week in their class room.
Each child was also able to plant a Sweet ‘n Neat miniature tomato plant with the Ashtabula County Master Gardeners. These miniature tomato plants can be raised this summer in a container. These one foot plants will give the kids tasty cherry tomatoes later in the summer.
It was fun watching the enthusiasm on the kids’ faces as they explore our great industry of agriculture. There were a lot of oohs and ahs heard all over the fairgrounds. It was a wonderful event!
This event was a major undertaking by OSU Extension and Farm Bureau. I would like to thank Abbey Averill, OSU Extension Program Assistant, for providing the leadership to this event. Abbey did a wonderful job coordinating with the planning committee and working with each school to plan trip logistics. Thanks Abbey for a wonderful job!
I would also like to thank the over 200 volunteers who donated their time to teach at one of the activity centers, serve as a classroom guide, or work behind the scene to make the day flow smoothly. This program would not have been possible without the help of each of these volunteers.
I would also like to thank the many sponsors of this event. The cost of hosting this event was over $10,000 and without the support of many this program would not have been possible. We are extremely grateful for the $3,800 grant we received from the Ashtabula Foundation to provide transportation for each school. Our other donors were also important as they donated program materials and dollars to support the day. Thank you to our platinum sponsors: Ashtabula Foundation, Ashtabula County Holstein Club, Ruth Mary Service, Ashtabula County Farm Bureau, OSU Extension-Ashtabula County, Ashtabula County Fairboard, and the Albert Ford Charitable Trust.
Our gold sponsors were:John & Nancy Patterson; Crosswinds Grille at The Lake House Inn; Pine Grove Jersey Farm LLC and Western Reserve Farm Cooperative.
Our silver sponsors were: AGS Graphics; Barb Schaab; Bissell Maple Farm; Ashtabula County Holstein Club; Ashtabula County Recorder; Bossy’s Way Inc.; Jefferson Grange; Farm Credit Services; Katherine S. Riedel, Attorney; Marrison Farms; Mideast Dairy Council; Pymatuning Valley Primary PTO, Inc; Pymatuning Valley FFA, and Wright Farms, LTD.
Our bronze sponsors were: Andover Bank; Ashtabula County Soil & Water Conservation District; Chalet Debonne Vineyards; Comp Dairy Farm; Easton Culligan; Susan Masirovits; Joe and Encie Moroski; Nutrients for Life; Ralph & Pat Pankowski; Richard Pruden; The Ohana Farm, and Valley Feed Mill.
And our Friends of Ag Day sponsors included: Brian & Jean Forman; Lakeview Federal Credit Union; Lovedale Farms; Hoppin Hoofers 4-H Club; Saybrook Grange, and Saybrook Raiders 4-H Club.
We are already planning for next year’s event. We welcome feedback from anyone who participated in this year’s program and are looking for committee members to serve on the 2015 planning committee. We are so excited on how this program helps open agriculture world to our county’s youth! If you are interested in helping with next year’s program, please contact Abbey Averill at 440-576-9008.
To close today’s column I would like to share a quote from Lyndon B. Johnson who stated, “If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through it.”
Have a good and safe day!
Marrison is Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension. Mr. Marrison can be reached at 440-576-9008 or firstname.lastname@example.org