Hello, Ashtabula County! The cool, damp weather didn’t detour this year’s iteration of Ag Day, the county wide youth agricultural education event. This year, every first grader in Ashtabula County was invited to attend Ag Day 2019 on May 10. On that Friday, there were around 1,025 students of the class of 2030, consisting of 52 different classrooms, in attendance for this year’s event, located at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds.

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 was the eighth year for this contagiously growing program. During this interactive day, students were able to get up close and personal with farm animals, row crops, fruits and vegetables at 29 different interactive stations relating to our county’s agriculture.

During the day, the first graders learned about all the different types of farm animals in our county including dairy cows, sheep, horses, beef cows, fish, goats, pigs, alpacas, chickens, ducks and turkeys. Students learned about the dairy industry by seeing dairy calves and milking a mock dairy cow. In addition, each student was able to make his or her own home-made butter with the PV FFA Chapter, and every student received a chocolate milkshake courtesy of the Ashtabula County Holstein Club.

The Ashtabula County Master Gardeners assisted each child in planting a Sweet ‘n Neat miniature tomato plant to take home. The kids learned how seeds are planted, how different crops are harvested and how the harvest produce is processed into foods that we enjoy. They also learned how honeybees are important to agriculture and were able to taste some honey. Other local ag productions students encountered included: Christmas tree farming; maple syrup and how it is made; and how Miscanthus grass can be made into paper products. There were also many tractors of all varieties for students viewing and education.

This was the first time that some of the county’s first graders got to see certain plants and animals up close. The hands on approach of Ag Day helped them connect to what was being taught and remember what they learned. The level of excitement from the kids was evident as they traveled from station to station, anticipating what experience they would have at their next stop.

This event was a major undertaking by OSU Extension and Farm Bureau. I would like to thank Abbey Averill, OSU Extension program assistant, and Mandy Orahood, organizational director for Ashtabula County Farm Bureau, for providing the leadership to this event. I am also appreciate of entire planning committee for all they time and hard work they provided to make Ag Day 2019 happen. Thank you!

I would also like to thank the more than 300 volunteers who donated their time to teach at one of the activity centers, serve as a tour guide or work behind the scenes to make the day flow smoothly. This program would not have been possible without the help of each of these volunteers. I would like to send out our sincere appreciation to the Lakeside Functional Skills class and their teachers. These students were an incredible assistance as they stuffed all the Ag goodie bags for the first graders prior to the event and were very valuable in helping getting all the take-homes for the kids on the school buses. Thank you!

I would also like to thank all of the many sponsors of this event. The cost of hosting this event was over $15,000 and without their support this program would not have been possible. For the seventh year, we were able to cover the transportation cost for each school.

Thank you again to the entities and individuals that sponsored this great day, it couldn’t have happened without your support.

Our platinum sponsors: Ashtabula County Farm Bureau, Ashtabula County Fair Board, Bill and Ruth Service Foundation, Centerra Co-op, The Anita Obhof Foundation, In Memory of J.J. Stitt, OSU Extension-Ashtabula County, and Ashtabula Applebee’s

Our gold sponsors were: Ashtabula County Holstein Club, Ann Marrison, Erie Bank, John and Nancy Patterson, Joyce Ring, Jefferson Garden Club, Linda Springer, Michael Hiener, Attorney at Law, Red Eagle Distillery, Western Reserve Animal Clinic, Wright Farms, LTD

Our silver sponsors included: Anonymous, Andover Bank, Ashtabula County Market Animal Committee, Ashtabula County Commissioners -JP Ducro IV, Casey Kozlowski and Kathryn Whittington, Barb Schaab, Ashtabula County Recorder, Bossy’s Way – The Zaebst Families, Capri S. Cafaro, COBA Select Sires, Inc., Comp Dairy Farm, Crosswinds Grille at the Lakehouse Inn, Daprile Insurance Group, LLC, Farm Credit Mid America, Gildersleeve Farms, Grand River Cellars Winery and Restaurant, Grand Valley FFA, Larry and Cassie Korland, Law Offices of Katherine Riedel

Our bronze sponsors were: Arms Trucking Company, Ashtabula County Beekeepers Association, Ashtabula County Antique Engine Club, Inc., Ashtabula County SWCD, American Legion Post 151 – Conneaut, Brant’s Apple Orchard, Brian and Jean Forman, Colebrook Ranch, Cherry Valley Slaughtering and Processing, County Doctor Veterinary Clinics, Deerfield Ag Services, Inc., Debbie Friedstrom, Easton Culligan, Eddie’s Grill and The Sezon Family, Ferrante Winery, Geauga Credit Union, Inc., H Hamilton Farms LLC, Honey Hollow Herbs, Jefferson Grange No. 1311, Larry and Donniella Winchell, Maple Producers of NE Ohio, Nassief Ford Toyota Hyundai, Piper Processing, Pat and Ralph Pankowski, Robin and Debbie Boggs and Family, Roll’N B Cowboy Café, Sarah Fisher, The Jefferson Milling Company, Tony and Sue Stocker, Tracey L. Housel, Springer Dairy Farm, Spencer’s Farm, Valley Feed Mill, Inc., S.C.I. Company, Dan Whitmire, Sherrie Tersigni, Saybrook Raiders 4-H Club, Peters Creek Farm, Ltd

Our friends of Ag Day sponsors were: Advanced Graphic Styling, ATECH Horticulture Program, Ann Rapose, Carl and Lisa Moodt, Cheryle Chiaramonte, Countryside Vet Clinic, Covered Bridge Gardens, Barbara Pruden, Greg and Pat Seymour, Jayne R. Bodnar, Kassay’s Greenhouse, Kids and Cows 4-H Club, Keith Palmer, Lots of Leche Dairy Farm, Manner’s Christmas Tree Farm, Mary Howe, Mechling’s Maple and Snowy Oak Tree Farms, Mike and Wendy Gruskiewicz, Roger and Shirley Corlett, Ruth Anne Jesionowski, Pymatuning Valley Primary PTO Inc, Saybrook Grange No. 1739, Simak Trucking, Tree Tyme Nursery, Inc.

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 2019 planning committee. We are excited about how this program helps open agriculture’s 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.

 

ANDREW HOLDEN is an Extension educator, agriculture and natural resources, Ohio State University Extension. He can be reached at 440-576-9008 or Holden.155@osu.edu.