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Students learn about horses at the annual Hand-On Ag Day.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Northern Panhandle Conservation District held the 10th annual Hands-On Ag Day Thursday and Friday at the Marshall County Fairgrounds in Moundsville for all Marshall County 5th graders.

 Students rotated through 11 stations that cover a specific aspect of agriculture such as soil, water quality, forestry, livestock and more.  The purpose of the Hands-On Ag Day was to educate students and provide a better understanding of what agriculture is and how it plays a role in their own lives.

“We were excited to host our 10th annual Hands-On Ag Day,” said Katie Fitzsimmons, NRCS District Conservationist. “It has been a tremendous experience and would not have been possible without the support from the local school board, and local agriculture agencies and organizations. This was a unique opportunity for students to gain firsthand knowledge about different aspects of agriculture and alleviate common misconceptions of where their food actually comes from.”

Teachers and local FFA Advisors also see the value in having their students participate as attendees and volunteers.  Nicole Shipman is the Agriculture and Plant Systems teacher in addition to serving as the John Marshall FFA Advisor.  Her students assisted at each of the different stations.

“Ag Day is a beneficial learning experiences that both our high school and elementary school students can experience,” Shipman said.  “The high school students interact with professionals of industry and demonstrate leadership by also assisting with the guiding students to the stations.  Some students are even assisting with presentation in their respective career fields including dairy, goats and beef.”

“Our goal was to teach the kids as much as we possibly could about agriculture and how it plays a role in their own lives,” said retired Marshall County Schools Science teacher, NPCD Supervisor and member of the planning committee Mark Fitzsimmons.  “We talked to them about how to take care of bees and why they’re important. We taught them about where their beef and milk comes from. We wanted to make sure they know their milk doesn’t come from aisle 17 at the grocery store.”

Participating agencies include: NRCS, Farm Service Agency, Northern Panhandle Conservation District, West Virginia Department of Agriculture, West Virginia Conservation Agency, WVU Extension Service, Marshall County Fair, Marshall County Farm Bureau, Marshall County Commission, John Marshall Future Farmers of America and Marshall County Schools.