FFA members engage youngsters to boost ag literacy

Idaho FFA spreads the word to young students about the origins of food.
Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press

Published on April 10, 2017 3:17PM

Carol Ryan Dumas/Capital Press
Brianna Clizer of the Bonners Ferry FFA chapter reads to kindergartners at Boys and Girls Club in Twin Falls for an ag literacy lesson during the FFA State Leadership Conference’s day of service on April 7.

Carol Ryan Dumas/Capital Press Brianna Clizer of the Bonners Ferry FFA chapter reads to kindergartners at Boys and Girls Club in Twin Falls for an ag literacy lesson during the FFA State Leadership Conference’s day of service on April 7.

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Carol Ryan Dumas/Capital Press
Members of the Salmon FFA chapter help youngsters at Boys and Girls Club in Twin Falls make eggs during an ag literacy lesson for the FFA State Leadership Conference’s day of service on April 7.

Carol Ryan Dumas/Capital Press Members of the Salmon FFA chapter help youngsters at Boys and Girls Club in Twin Falls make eggs during an ag literacy lesson for the FFA State Leadership Conference’s day of service on April 7.

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Photosynthesis, pollination, seed dispersal — might seem like pretty heady topics for kindergarten and first-grade students, but it’s never too early to start learning about the workings and importance of agriculture.

In fact, the earlier the better, according to Idaho FFA members involved in an ag literacy event at Boys and Girls Club on Friday.

The Idaho FFA State Leadership Conference was winding its way to Saturday’s climax when hundreds of FFA members swapped their formal attire for blue T-shirts and jeans and spread out across Twin Falls for some 30 service events to thank the community for hosting the conference.

A few chapters chose to educate children on agronomy, forestry, livestock production and career opportunities in agriculture, and Boys and Girls Club was a perfect, if noisy, venue.

Ag literacy and knowing where food comes from is really important, said Shawna Siver, an FFA member from Bonners Ferry.

There’s only so much space in the world to grow food, and people need to know it’s important to develop and manage that, she said.

Having knowledge about agriculture and where their food comes from will hopefully foster support for agriculture, said fellow chapter member Mary Fioravanti.

“Maybe one day when their older, they’ll want to be a part of that, too,” said Bailey Myers.

But they don’t necessarily have to be a farmer to support agriculture and future food production, said Brittany Spangler.

“I think it’s really important to do these fun activities to spark an interest so they remember it,” she said.

Teaching the future generation so youngsters have a general understanding that ag is an aspect of every part of their life is critical to keeping ag viable, she said.

The Bonners Ferry members gave about 90 youngsters an agronomy lesson — compliments of Dr. Seuss Books and the Cat in the Hat — explaining everything involved in growing food from seed, answering questions and helping the children plant seeds in cups bound for their own windowsills or gardens.

In another room, FFA members from Salmon were helping youngsters construct eggs from Play-Doh, explaining each part of the egg and its function and how eggs are produced.

Katie Cooper, ag education instructor and Salmon FFA adviser, said hands-on activities are a good learning tool for young students and eggs are a food they’re familiar with.

Ag literacy events are meant to help youngsters understand where their food comes from to help urban communities understand why it’s important to support agriculture, she said.

Ag literacy programs help expose children to agriculture and FFA, and it’s really fun to teach kids about both, said Hunter Davis of Highland-Craigmont FFA.

As long as they’re having fun and learning a little, the event is hitting the mark, he said.

Boys and Girls Club Program Director Garren Moreno welcomed FFA and the ag literacy event, saying the Club embraces educational partnerships.

Boys and Girls Club is not just a place for children to hang out and it’s definitely not a babysitting service. It’s a youth-development and mentoring program providing a safe place for youngsters to learn and grow, he said.



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