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News Story
Updated: 03/12/2014 08:00:03AM

Fourth graders

take in farming

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PHOTO BY AL PALMER

Katrina Miller and Tristan Clinton from Sikes Elementary School check to see if their finds in the phosphate 'dig' sponsored by Mosaic are fossils.

PHOTO BY AL PALMER

Students from Polk elementary fourth grades search through sand and gravel for ancient artifacts like shark's teeth that can all be found in soil in Polk County. The 'dig' is organized annually by Mosaic.

PHOTO BY AL PALMER

Jeffrey Clark of Sikes Elementary School donned a forestry ranger's fire suit at Monday's Agri-Fest where students learned what forestry conservation does for Polk County.

PHOTO BY AL PALMER

Polk County Small Farms Agricultural Agent Mary Beth Henry shows elementary students at Monday's Agri-Fest session a giant radish as she explains what small farms bring to Polk County's agricultural table each year.

PHOTO BY AL PALMER

Students from local elementary schools scour an archeological 'dig' Monday at the Stuart Center on U.S. Highway 17 in Bartow as this year's Agri-Fest kicks off.

PHOTO BY AL PALMER

Cowboy Scott Shoupe sits quietly while Polk County Livestock Agent Bridgette Carlisle tells students about ranching in Florida at Monday's Agri-Fest in Bartow.

PHOTO BY AL PALMER

Master Gardner Gil Lucas talks to students about cultivating begonias at Monday's session of the 26th annual Agri-Fest which continues this week and next in Bartow

By CATHY PALMER

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For the 26th time, some 6,000 Polk County elementary school fourth-grade students jammed the Stuart Center on U.S. 17 in Bartow for the annual agriculture incursion program, Agri-Fest, where the students learn the basics of agriculture and what it means to Polk County.

Organized jointly by the Polk County Extension Service and the Florida Farm Bureau, the two-week program brings students to the agriculture center to learn how their food is produced and grown in Polk County.

Dozens of volunteers join County Agriculture Agents, Farm Bureau representatives, Polk farmers, ranchers and businesses to learn the ins and outs of growing crops, raising livestock and preserving the environment.

The students visit stations to learn about blueberries, ranching, small farms,citrus production and other aspects of agriculture that are central to Polk County’s agrarian economy, according to organizers.

“Agri-Fest is our best opportunity to teach students about the main agricultural commodities produced in Polk County and help them to develop a better understanding of how local agriculture production influences their daily lives, said Kyle Story, Polk County Farm Bureau president.

The students spend about two hours moving from one station to the other to learn from agronomists.

Fourth grade students are targeted, according to Farm Bureau executive director Carole McKenzie, because “it’s an opportune time for them to learn about agriculture” and” get them interested in farming as a career. We would love to recruit future farming leadership and give the students the opportunity to learn about citrus and ranching and how it impacts their daily lives. We want them to better understand the industries around them.”

Agri-Fest kicked off Monday and will continue this week until Friday and then resume on Monday and continue through Friday.


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