Brooke Hills Park hosts 10th-annual Ag Day

Brooke County fifth graders have fun in the sun at the 10th-annual Ag Day held at Brooke Hills Park Thursday and Friday. -- Taryn Linder

WELLSBURG – As the school year comes to a close growing season is just getting started for farmers.

A Brooke County program offered to local fifth graders gives students a chance to be outside while gaining first-hand experience in farming, animal care and other outdoor careers.

Ag Day was launched several years ago by its committee member Ruby Greathouse.

“We copied this from Marshall County, and I hear Jefferson County is copying us,” joked Greathouse. “It’s a great program.”

Greathouse noted that fifth-grade age is the perfect age for students to start thinking about possible careers in agricultural fields.

“We (the Ag Day Committee) determined that at that age, the kids are going to learn a lot more than those younger,” Greathouse said. “They learn potential avenues of employment. In years past, we have had the young people fill out surveys and some youngsters wrote things like, ‘I’m going to be a veterinarian now.'”

Ag Day was hosted Thursday and Friday at Brooke Hills Park. There were 13 presenters available for students to learn about more than 30 career paths which can be occupied locally.

One station was occupied by Bethany College’s Equestrian program where students were able to ride, pet and walk horses.

“This is our second year participating in Ag Day,” said Rylee Pickens, of Bethany College’s equine program. “I really enjoy teaching helmet safety and how important it is to know. This year, we also taught what is safe for horses to eat.”

In addition, Kacy Gantzer of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture taught the stages of vegetables.

“My favorite part of my job is teaching children about the farmers I work with,” said Gantzer. “And hopefully inspiring the kids into the field because we need more farmers.”

Math teacher Rachel Rearden was one of many chaperones at the event and said Ag Day is always a hit with the kids.

“They get hands-on experience, seeing a lot of professions that are agriculture related in our area,” noted Reardon.

Reardon added that it’s also good to give the kids some outdoor time.

The Ag Day committee is made up of Cathy Hervey, Britney Hervey Farris, Greathouse, Joanne Joan Simonetti and Norman Schwertfeger.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of many organizations,” said Simonetti.

Also participating were Henthorn Sugar Farms, which brought alpacas; Grow Ohio Valley; WVU Extension, 4-H sunflowers and ATV safety; David McGill, WVU Forestry; Sylvia Taylor, who brought chickens and bunnies; Brooke County Health Department; Family Roots Farm; Blended Homestead; Chatman Neely, animal care; Heather stone, animal care; and Jeannie Schwertfeger, animal care.

(Linder can be contacted at tlinder@heraldstaronline.com)