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Students learn science of farming

Nov 03, 2017 11:02AM ● Published by Jana Klopsch

Miranda Ferrufino already knows she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham|j.burnham@mycityjournals.com    

As part of their College and Career Awareness course, seventh-graders spend 19 days learning about agriculture, said Sonja Ferrufino, CTE Administrator for Jordan District.

“We wanted to give them a work-based learning career awareness opportunity in agriculture,” said Ferrufino.

A two-day agriculture fair provided activities for seventh-graders to learn about farming and farm-related careers. About 20 local businesses hosted booths with career-oriented activities to help students learn about various aspects of agriculture.

A Representative from Stotz Equipment reminded the students of West Hills and South Hills middle schools that the spot where their schools are built was farmland 20 years ago. He dispelled the old-fashioned idea of farmers when he explained that everything is automated now, with tractors being guided by GPS to drive themselves. 

James Loomis of the Farm Bureau knew that on such a cold and rainy day as it was on Sept. 19, the first day of the fair, kids wonder why anyone would want to be a farmer. Inviting students to explore plants and bugs under microscopes, he explained that working in a lab with the biology of plants is part of farming. 

“We’re all here to show these kids how wide of a field this actually is,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of non-traditional avenues to agriculture. It’s a field that should appeal to our best creative problem solvers and most unique thinkers.” 

Leo Ovalle, from TerraWorks Construction and Landscaping, informed the students there is a need in agriculture for designers and inventors. 

“Somebody has to design sprinklers; somebody has to come up with these ideas; somebody has to create these things to make it better—that would be you guys!” said Ovalle. He explained how someone invented glue that chemically changes the irrigation pipes for a more secure connection and that improvements are made regularly on drainage systems. He quizzed students on how sprinklers work, pointing out the application of engineering. 

“We need you guys to be interested in science and agriculture so that we can solve these problems,” he said. “All this technology branches out and ties us all together.”

Jeanice Skousen, from Jordan District Nutrition Services, provided students with snacks at her booth, which highlighted the My Plate program.

“We’re teaching them why it’s important to eat from all the food groups, and the benefits and nutrients and vitamins they need for their bodies,” she said. “At this age, seventh grade, it’s so important; their bodies are still growing.” 

Some of the local growers that provide food for school lunches showcased their products, and students could sample fresh corn, peaches, pears, apples and cherry tomatoes.

Kory Bertelson and Jason White, from IFA, talked to the kids about what crops are produced for the foods they eat. They played a game with seeds and end products as a fun way to engage the teens in thinking about where their food comes from. Many students didn’t know how many steps were involved to bring food from the farm to the store. 

Other students already have experience with agriculture. Miranda Ferrufino, a seventh-grader from South Hills Middle, taught her peers about the role of Utah Wool Growers. She raises sheep for 4-H and already knows she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. She said she will probably have a farm. Once in high school, she plans to join the Future Farmers of America club.

Officers from local high school FFA chapters and Jordan Tech students acted as group leaders for the 2,500 seventh-graders who participated across the two days of Agriculture Day, held at Progressive Plants Farm in West Jordan.

This is the second year Jordan Tech has held the fair, based on a recommendation from their Agricultural Advisory Board, which wanted students to be more aware of the aspects of agriculture.

“You’re going to eat, and you’re going to have to wear clothes every single day, so they wanted them to know where it comes from,” said Ferrufino.  

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