According to Virginia Fulwood, a state educator with the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture, the Georgia Ag Experience is a program put on by the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture, a nonprofit organization that was founded by the Farm Bureau. The Georgia Ag Experience mobile classroom travels throughout all of Georgia, teaching about agriculture to students in public and private schools across the state.
“Kids in Dawson County (this week) are learning that Georgia’s number one business is agriculture. The State of Georgia makes more money in agriculture than anything else, and what that means for kids is that when they get older there’s going to be more jobs in agriculture,” Fulwood said. “But if they don’t have any education in it they’re not going to have the opportunity to tap into the number one field.”
The target age for the Georgia Ag Experience is third, fourth and fifth graders, but each school system picks their own schedule when the mobile classroom is in their district, she said. The Dawson County School System chose to have all the third graders in the district visit the trailer, so from Wednesday through Friday different third grade classes cycled in and out of the parking lot of the Professional Development Center, where the mobile classroom was set up.
Each group of students participating in the Georgia Ag Experience first sat through a 25-minute long pre-lesson teaching them about agriculture using a state-standard curriculum. They then played an agriculture-themed game to decide which half of the group would get to go in the mobile classroom first and took turns experiencing the activities in the mobile classroom.
The mobile classroom is a STEM trailer aimed at teaching and engaging students with hands-on, fun ways of learning, Fulwood said.
“The entire trailer is a STEM trailer, so we combine science, technologies, engineering and math with agriculture and engage the kids with hands-on activities to teach them about agriculture and also introduce how much technology plays a role in agriculture now,” Fulwood said. “A lot of people don’t realize how many careers there are in agriculture; when they think of agriculture they see a guy standing in a field with a pitchfork and they don’t perform there’s research, there’s software engineering, technology development, mechanics — and so we like to target each of the top commodities in Georgia.”
The trailer is composed of different stations talking about different Georgia-specific aspects of agriculture, including horticulture, fruits and vegetables, poultry, peanuts, forestry, beef and dairy and cotton, as well as a career station describing some of the potential careers in the field. As they walked through the trailer, students participated in different activities and games to learn about each of these topics in a fun way.
“They have so much fun; it amazes me how I don’t even usually have to give them instruction, they just hop on and automatically know what to do with the computer,” Fulwood said. “They’re learning about agriculture and they don’t even realize how much they’re absorbing.”
In addition to the Georgia Ag Experience, the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture offers online versions of several of the games in the trailer, as well as resources for teachers for use in their own classrooms.
“We have some online versions of these games on that website that teachers and kids can play, we also have some resources for teachers so that they can teach agriculture in their own classroom throughout the year,” Fulwood said. “It’s hard to know that something is available if you’re not even aware of it; how can you tell a kid they can be in agriculture if they don’t know what agriculture is — and the kids love it, they come up with the funniest questions.”
To learn more about the Georgia Ag Experience, go to https://www.georgiaagexperience.org/