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JWE students interact with Georgia Ag Experience

Wednesday and Thursday morning, students at Jones Wheat Elementary got a hands-on lesson of working in agriculture through the Georgia Ag Experience.

The Georgia Ag Experience is a unique STEM based educational program that invites 3rd-5th grade students across Georgia to explore the vast opportunities in agriculture. The experience uses technology and digital learning that allows students to take a deep-dive into seven different agricultural commodities.

The eight stations include poultry, peanuts, beef & dairy, cotton, horticulture, fruit, vegetables and pecans, forestry and careers.

During the poultry segment students play an engineering video game that allows them to engineer a poultry house and raise chickens, while the peanut segment gives the students an augmented reality tractor simulator where they can experience peanut planting, harvesting and post- harvest production.

These two segments seem to be a favorite among many of the students, according to teachers.

Other segments including beef & dairy allow kids to play an animated video game that helps them experience industry careers through the cow’s lifecycle. Cotton helps students explore the stages of cotton production through a video spinner and the horticulture segment is experienced through an augmented reality tablet scene that follows the journey of a plant from the greenhouse to the garden center and eventually to the backyard.

Other favorites include the fruit, vegetables and pecans segment. Students are given a UPC Grocery Store scanner, where they act as a grocery store clerk and learn how to recognize Georgia grown food products.

Third grade students, Griffin Lane and Zachary Wyatt said this was their favorite station.

“You had to move the scanner really fast and press the buttons and everything,” Lane said.

Prior to visiting the Georgia Ag Experience, Lane and Wyatt said they had learned a little bit in class, but through the games they learned about the parts of the cow and how to raise chickens through feeding them and using a veterinarian.

Finally, kids can take a career quiz that points them in the direction of how they could work in agriculture, while still pursuing their favorite topics.

“We are very excited and we just wanted it to show kids how agriculture has grown and what they can do,” said Lisa Green of Decatur County Farm Bureau.

While most of the experience takes place inside the mobile classroom, Education Coordinator Julie Wilbers teaches about the cotton industry outdoors and takes the students through the journey of a cotton t-shirt.

“The whole idea of the journey of a cotton t-shirt is that not everyone can be a farmer, but everyone can have a career in agriculture,” Wilbers said. “If they think agriculture is just farming, then that’s not the complete picture.”

Teacher Makeesha Kegler said the students had previously been learning about agricultural careers and vocabulary.

Kegler said the students were most looking forward to learning about the animals and what they do and what they produce, but her hope was that they would learn that there’s more to agriculture than just farming.

Kegler’s hopes were exceeded through all the activities provided by the Georgia Ag Experience and she hopes her students continue to pursue an interest in any area their minds were drawn to.