Each year, Highlands County hosts an event called Ag-Venture for local third graders. The three-day event accommodates third graders from every Highlands County elementary school, teaching them about local agriculture. As someone who is passionate about agriculture, this event is one of my favorites.
As an FFA member, I have a unique opportunity with Ag-Venture. Each year I am able to serve as a group leader on one of the days of Ag-Venture. I get to lead around a class of third graders from station to station, making sure they stay excited and enthusiastic about agriculture.
I attended Ag-Venture as a third grader, and actually remember the experience pretty well. I was on A Track, which meant I got to visit stations like alligator farming and strawberries. Each year I have volunteered I have been put on A Track, which means I have gotten quite familiar with each of the stations. This year, however, I got the new experience of being on B Track.
B Track is home to stations like dairy, poultry, and water conservation. I had a great time learning about topics that I had very little knowledge of, even as a high schooler. I'm impressed that our county has such a well put-together event that gives third graders a chance to be exposed to the world of agriculture at such a young age.
On B Track, I was able to watch my group pet a week-old dairy calf for the first time, make their own butter, and eat some homemade omelets. At several of the stations, they got the chance to plant their own plants. Many of them had never even seen a plant be planted before, let alone do it themselves.
This year, I was the leader of a group of students from Cracker Trail Elementary. This was by far the most well-behaved group I had ever had, which definitely made the day even more enjoyable. The kids were enthusiastic, eager to learn, and full of questions.
Some of the things the students say are absolutely hilarious, and sometimes unrepeatable. It truly amazes me how little these kids have been exposed to agriculture though, especially living in Highlands County. While advocating agriculture to young kids, I have actually been asked the question, "Do you grow cotton candy?" I love having the opportunity to answer their questions and educate them on our nation's most important industry.
Highlands County is a primarily agricultural county, yet so many of our youth know very little about what goes on here. They have never heard of caladiums, never petted a cow, and never planted anything before. Our agriculture industry is something we should be extremely proud of, and I certainly think we are.
I feel so grateful to live in a community that has worked so hard for all that we have and to help others through agriculture. We are so passionate about what we do that we put on a time-consuming event every single year to share our pride. This being said, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who makes Ag-Venture possible year after year. Thank you to the speakers and presenters, the coordinators, and volunteers. Without the help of an entire community, this event would not be possible. We are blessed to have all of the resources that we do, and even more blessed to have the opportunity to share that with all of our young people.