NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Fourth-grade students got an opportunity to have a little fun while learning the importance of the agriculture industry during Agriculture Day at the Nacogdoches County Exposition Center.
Ag Day is held every year, and it is hosted by the Texas Farm Bureau as a way to engage kids and teach them the role the agriculture industry plays in their daily lives.
“What we try to do is educate children about agriculture, the importance of agriculture,” said Jodie Goff, a spokesperson for Texas Farm Bureau. “Where their food comes from, where their clothes come from, and why it’s important they support our industry.”
On opposite ends of the Nacogdoches County Exposition Center, two generations of agriculture promoters went about their talks in different ways to yet another generation.
“I'm so glad ya'll are here today,” said Walter McGarrett as students walked up. “We're talking about how agriculture and being a farrier or a blacksmith would have been a part of agriculture."
Down the way, Central Heights FFA president Jordan Engstrom informed listeners, “So, today we are going to give a presentation about chickens.”
Suddenly, music to the chicken dance was turned up and a student dressed up in a colorful chicken costume began doing the dance to the catchy song.
McGarrett isn’t one to do the chicken dance, but he had the gumption to seek a multi-disciplinary university degree at age “46 or 7."
“It took me about 8 years to pay out of pocket." McGarrett said.
The retired horseshoer is now the first ag teacher for Cushing Elementary. The high school ag teacher concentrates on showing the animals with the kids. McGarrett says his focus will be an introduction to ag robotics.
“This is a time now where everything is being automated and there are just no two ways around that," McGarrett said. "And so, agriculture needs to be on the cutting edge as well.”
So while an ex-farrier plans to teach third through fifth graders how to make a robot to collect eggs, FFA teenagers teach their younger peers about the bird that produces those eggs.
"Who wants to pet a chicken?,” asked Michael Engle, an FFA officer.
Children squealed with excitement, while the few who were way too familiar with the purpose of laying hens seemed a bit unimpressed.
“Nacogdoches is one of Texas’ biggest poultry providers, so if they know that it will give them more pride in their community,” Engstrom said. “And they’ll be able to say, 'Hey, we produce chickens.”
The teens are definitely role models for the fourth graders. But nothing can be taken away from the older, wiser McGarrett. He can teach them a career in agriculture can start from underneath a horse and end in front of a classroom.
Nacogdoches County Farm Bureau has been sponsoring Ag Day for so long that no one can remember exactly how long; they estimate it’s been 25 to 30 years.