Farm Field Days annually introduces the fourth-grade students from Prince William and Manassas schools to some of the basics of farming and natural-resources conservation. Students spend the day rotating through seven barns, with each barn highlighting an aspect of life on the farm using hands-on lessons. The animal barns never fails to amaze the kids by not only showcasing the full range of farmyard critters from bees to chickens and cows, but feature interactive demonstrations of how common products are made.
Demonstrations included wool spinning, butter churning, agricultural and industrial Regions of Virginia, trees and photosynthesis, and soil erosion through a science experiment, to name a few. These demonstrations are geared to meet Virginia SOL (standards of learning) measures. Farm Field Days is a fun and engaging hands-on approach to teaching students about the agricultural world around them, and opening their eyes to the importance of protecting our natural resources.
This year I was at the butter churning station in the animal barn. We used kid energy enthusiasm to actually make butter that I spread on pretzels for the kids to taste. Some were a little hesitant to taste the product of their labor, but curiosity and hunger won out. The kids were amazed that they could make butter, good tasting butter. It was warm, and hadn’t had all the moisture pressed out so it was creamy and delicious with the salty pretzels.
The Prince William County Conservation District, which focuses on protecting and enhancing the county’s water and soil resources, puts on programs that teach students about agriculture and environmental science. Farm Field Days is our oldest program.
But funding from the county that used to go to those programs was redirected to cover the Chesapeake Bay cleanup, so the Prince William Environmental Excellence Foundation, the nonprofit affiliate of the conservation district, to fund the beyond-the-classroom learning opportunities, such as Farm Field Days and Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences continued. We raise money for these programs and our river monitoring programs through grants, donations, and the Farm to Table event in late August. None of this would be possible without the volunteers and support of the community. Thank you.