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Ag Day Returns for 2nd-Graders

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Second-graders from Legacy Christian School in Noblesville learn about llamas from local 4-H’ers at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds on Wednesday during Hamilton County Ag Day activities, which kicked off Tuesday and continue through today at the 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville.

Anybody who has driven by the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds since Tuesday has likely noticed Reynolds’ Farm Equipment’s big green and yellow John Deere 8370 R tractor parked on the lawn of the Exhibition Center.

Hamilton County Ag Day — in its 36th year — is being celebrated three days this week — Tuesday, Wednesday and today — with activities planned at the 4-H Fairgrounds for 2,500 second-graders and teachers from pre-registered Hamilton County schools.

The students rotate through 11 different live animal and crop presentations thanks to a staff of more than 100 4-H and FFA members and adult volunteers who coordinate Ag Day activities and make these presentations. Among the dozens of Ag Day youth volunteers are 11 Noblesville High School student presenters, including my own sophomore 4-H’er daughter (who is helping with the Ag Day program this morning), and her classmates, Danielle Baker, Amelia Wiggins and Chloe Zerr, who each volunteered a different day.

All give several brief presentations about various animals and related topics or lead groups through a tour Zerr, a llama 4-H’er, for instance, shared about llamas. NHS senior Laura Wertz shared about sheep, one of her 4-H projects.

Goals of the program are to provide students with a better understanding of the important role of agriculture in their daily lives, according to Emma Mendez, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for Purdue Extension Service, who sent out letters to families of Ag Day student volunteers and to their schools asking for school officials to excuse their absences if presenting on Ag Day. Mendez and Lisa Hanni, youth program assistant for Purdue Extension Service in Hamilton County, planned the Ag Day.

National Ag Day is Tuesday.

According to Mendez, these student volunteers are expected to “gain valuable leadership and public speaking skills through their volunteer work with Ag Day.”

Sarah Morin-Wilson, youth experience manager at Conner Prairie, this morning is sending “some good, responsible spinners,” including my daughter, who will take her own spinning wheel and demonstrate the use of wool and spinning. Conner Prairie’s textiles expert Sue Payne, who has worked at the museum for more than 50 years, is supervising today’s Conner Prairie youth at Ag Day and they will explain the steps of making a garment from wool. The Conner Prairie youth spinners each August compete in the Sheep to Shawl contest at the Indiana State Fair, demonstrating everything from carding a fleece, which prepares it for spinning, spinning it on spinning wheels, plying (which is twisting two strands of wool together) and weaving it into scarf in four hours.

Last year’s 2021 Ag Day was virtual, so this will be the first time since 2019 that there has been an in-person Ag Day.

Some of the most popular questions: “What do sheep eat? “How many eggs do chickens produce in a year?” “And what’s the most important piece of gear when horseback riding?”

Hamilton County Ag Day attracted 300 students the first year, in 1987. Besides the 4-H Fair, Ag Day is the largest program Purdue Extension does at the Fairgrounds. So it takes a lot of people to put it together. 

Hanni usually reaches out to the 4-H program’s livestock superintendents, who talk to 4-H’ers who show in the sheep, horse, swine, llama and cattle projects about volunteering their time during the three-day event that took over the main buildings at the Fairgrounds from Tuesday to today.

– Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.