Iowa was represented well in Little Rock, Arkansas during the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference with twenty-one ag in the classroom coordinators, teachers and volunteers! And wow did we learn a lot! I definitely brought my AGVENTURE back to Iowa!
Day 1 included traveling workshops! I chose the fish science and cotton history tour in hopes to learn more about southern agriculture. We began our workshop at Keo Fish Farms, the worlds largest producer of hybrid striped bass and sterile triploid grass carp. It was very fascinating to hear about the history of the farm, how they have evolved, and the science and technology needed to raise and transport the bass and carp fish.
Keo Farms market their fish for vegetation control purposes and do not sell any fish for human consumption. Farm employees rely on yellow, green and red signs like the one above to indicate if the fish in the holding tanks have been tested positive for triploid chromosmoes (meaning they are sterile). It is important that all fish are tested before leaving the farm. Grass carp can lay 1000 eggs at one time and this can cause the fish to become invasive if they continue to reproduce.
We concluded our traveling workshop at the Plantation Agriculture Museum. The preserves highlighted the history of Arkansas cotton production. It was interesting to discover, in chronological order, the changes and improvements of technology throughout the years. Did you know cotton by-products include dollar bills, Ritz crackers, Pringles, clothes, cottonseed meal, Apple Cinnimon Eggo Waffles, and livestock feed?
Below is a picture of cotton seedlings, an original picker, and a wagon of harvested cotton. Traditionally cotton harvest was done by hand but today's cotton picker is much safer and automates cotton harvesting to speed up the process while increasing production.
The conference continued with two full days of wonderful keynote speakers and breakout sessions. I attended; "Using Agriculture to get Environmentally Motivated," "High-Tech Farming," New MacDonald has a Drone," "Think Outside the Box," Beefing up Math, "Water Connects Us All," "Aeroponics in your Classroom," "I have...Who Has...," "Ag=Abilities," and "Agriculture Family Night." Below are just two of many ideas I hope to implement into our Linn County Farm Bureau Education Outreach Program.
In this first activity, "Think Outside the Box," we were introduced to the book, "The Girl Who Thought in Pictures," which is about Temple Grandin, an author, professor of Animal Science at Colorado State, animal behavior consultant, and autism spokesperson. Temple was also one of our keynote speakers during the conference and it was an honor to hear her speak! This STEM activity introduces cattle handling to students and challenges them to create a safe chute system for cattle to be worked.