With approximately 149,000 acres in farmland, Crockett County is ranked 2nd for cotton production in the state of Tennessee. Other than cotton, the county’s primary crops are soybeans and corn. The combined market value of the production of these crops is over $81 million in Crockett County alone. In addition to these extensive agricultural operations, agricultural education is an important part of community life. This is evident by the Farm Bureau Women of Crockett County’s efforts to educate children about agriculture, growing food and sustaining the local economy. The nine-member Farm Bureau Women’s group focuses on two inter-related projects each year that seek to provide children with hands-on agricultural education experiences.
Farm Day is held each October for an average of 300 fourth grade students from five different elementary schools. This annual event consists of many activities that teach students about the importance of agriculture in relation to food, clothing and many other aspects of life. The students get to participate in interactive activities that help them understand their food comes from a farm and not just the grocery store, and that numerous by-products are made from their own county’s crops: cotton, corn and soybeans.
For instance, tires are made from corn and t-shirts from cotton. The most unique experience the students get to take part in is learning how cotton is processed from boll to fiber via a working mini cotton gin. The students are even provided the chance to experience picking cotton from the field.
“Allowing my students to participate in the Farm Day has exposed students to so many life experiences. From growing an appreciation of the farmer to picking and touching cotton, all of my students gain a new life experience from that day. Living in a farming community, we assume that all children have been exposed to farm life, have seen a cotton field, have picked and touched cotton, and have ridden on a tractor. This is not the case. So many of my students have never been in a cotton field, picked cotton, and felt the soft boll, we truly appreciate all that Farm Day adds to our classroom lessons,” says Elizabeth Conley, Fourth grade teacher at Alamo City School, about her love for Farm Day.
The other annual activity of the Farm Bureau Women centered around education is the offering of Ag in the Classroom (AITC) workshops each June. These workshops provide teachers with resources that facilitate the inclusion of agricultural education within their curriculum throughout the school year. These workshops provide approximately $300 worth of grade level activities that incorporate AITC while still meeting state standards and STEM principles.
The Crockett County Farm Bureau Women are enhancing classroom education through their educational initiatives focused upon hands-on experiences related to food, fiber, health and agriculture. This group is not only making a difference in the lives of Crockett County children, but also the wider community.
~Amber Graves, LFN Intern 2020
Published in the NWTN Local Food Guide 2020