SALEM — Oregon Ag Fest will honor three school groups Sunday, April 29, for their efforts to expand agricultural education in the state.
Receiving first place and a $1,000 award is the Urban Farm Program at College Hill High School in Corvallis. The Urban Farm gives at-risk freshmen and sophomores a real-life farm and business experience to develop their leadership, teamwork and problem-solving skills. This takes place on a half-acre with 30 laying hens, a farmers’ market stand and a student employment program that allows 3-4 students to work and run the urban farm stand from June to August.
Echo FFA will receive the $600 second-place award for its agricultural advocacy projects, which include partnering with Ag In the Classroom at the elementary schools, ag science activities with the middle school and a petting zoo for the community during FFA week in March.
Receiving the third-place award of $400 will be the North Powder Farm to School Program, which involves all grades of the school in garden and poultry production. Going on 9 years, it began as a way to bring fresh, local products into the school cafeteria and to teach children the origin of their food. The local food bank also utilizes products from the farm in its weekly food distribution.
The purpose of the Ag Fest Agricultural Education Award is to reward student organizations, nonprofit organizations or classrooms that promote and educate Oregonians about agriculture and extend the Oregon Ag Fest mission beyond its annual, two-day, interactive event.
“As Oregon Ag Fest celebrates 31 years of growing awareness for the importance of agriculture in our communities, we are proud to continue to support the agricultural education outreach efforts of nonprofit and student organizations this year,” Jake Wilson, Oregon Ag Fest chairman, said in a press release. “Oregon Ag Fest is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of agriculture, and we see this award as a way to encourage and support student groups that have programs and activities aimed to accomplish the same thing.”
The awards ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 29, on the main stage in the Jackman Long Building at the Oregon State Fairgrounds during the 31st Annual Oregon Ag Fest. Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Alexis Taylor will present the awards.
The awards ceremony will top off a weekend of agricultural adventures at Ag Fest, which is in its 31st year.
Ag Fest is at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem at 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, April 28, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, April 29. Children 12 and under are admitted free and parking is free. Admission is $9 for 13 and over.
All activities center around locally grown products, which allows families to learn about and celebrate the diverse world of Oregon agriculture.
“Our goal is to help kids gain a better understanding of the importance of agriculture to Oregon’s rural landscape, and to emphasize that most food starts on a farm somewhere and in Oregon we’re lucky enough to grow over 200 varieties of crops,” said Wilson, the Ag Fest chairman.
Members of the public can kick off their visit to Ag Fest from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 28, with an old-fashioned ranch-style breakfast. Included are hotcakes, ham, Oregon-grown fruit toppings, scrambled eggs, juice, coffee and milk prepared by Linn County 4-H groups. Cost is $6 for adults; children under 3 are free. Proceeds from the breakfast provide scholarships for 4-H camp and leader training.
Ag Fest is sponsored in part by Oregon Farm Bureau, Bob’s Red Mill, Oregon Dairy Women, Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon Women for Agriculture, among many others.