YREKA, Calif. — A misty rain served as a perfect backdrop as ranchers Ryan and Jennifer Walker told groups of fourth-graders about the benefits of farmland in capturing runoff.
The couple had the children pour cups of water over models of a city street and a farm field to show them the difference in how quickly the water drained into a basin.
Farm fields, they said, capture and cleanse water from pollutants that would otherwise make it into drinking water, they said.
“It’s the same sort of thing that we’ve been talking to a lot of the agencies about,” Ryan Walker said in an interview. “We’re trying to point out the environmental benefits of having a lot of farmland.”
The hands-on project at the Walkers’ Siskiyou County Farm Bureau-sponsored booth was one of many that youngsters took part in during the 22nd annual agricultural awareness day May 21 at the fairgrounds in Yreka.
About 350 area fourth-graders attended the event, which is sponsored each year by the Siskiyou County CattleWomen and other local farm groups.
The hands-on activities are a hit each year with children and made a good impression on Renee McKay, a fourth-grade teacher at Jackson Street Elementary School in Yreka.
“I think it’s great for (the students) to have hands-on education and see how things really are instead of just reading about them in a book,” McKay said.
This year, many of the booths focused on mathematics, reinforcing to students that the numbers problems they’re solving in class play a big role in running a farm. At one booth, students were handed a worksheet to try to calculate how many logs could be loaded onto a truck to keep it within a maximum weight of 26,000 pounds.
At another, Tim Smith of Fawaz Farming in Scott Valley, Calif., asked the students if they could figure out how much hay could be hauled away by the Harobed truck he was demonstrating.
“It does over 600 bales an hour,” said Cohlton Richardson, a fourth-grader from Grenada, Calif.
Richardson said he learned from the Walkers’ runoff booth that “water can wipe out a lot of things.” He also tried his hand at roping a mock calf.
“I didn’t get a single one,” he said.
Parents said the ag day provides valuable lessons for kids about the area’s leading industry.
“I think it’s a great learning tool for the kids, especially in this community,” said Stephanie Richardson, Cohlton’s mom.