Ag-Ed. open house teaches lessons all around
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Tue., Jun. 5, 2012
Vernon first-graders got a sampling of Rockville High School's Regional Agricultural Education Department at the annual open house on May 31. Groups of students traveled to 10 stations, and switched every 10 minutes, marked by the sound of an air horn. RHS students presented short lessons, sometimes hands-on activities, and answered the younger students' questions.
The stations included poultry, sheep-shearing, tractors, plants, and an overview of Connecticut Agriculture – which was led by RHS junior Sarah Lueckel. “It's about products that come from Connecticut,” she said. “We do a few matching games where they have to match the product with the word. We're also discussing the agriculture products in their homes. They learn a little about what agriculture is, how it applies to their lives and how it affects them.”
Senior Chelsea Thomson instructed the children how to plant marigolds, and then had them match a pepper, a tomato, and some mint gum with the plants they come from.
“They love it,” Thomson said. “They always have a good time coming here, and they always get excited because they get to take the plant home.”
The students got to meet the four alpacas – Suzette, Macchiato, Maccu Picchu and Pearl – that call RHS home, and were able to get up close and pet them. “Macchiato loves it,” said junior Erin Dlubac. “He's really good natured. They're a unique animal, so it's not something the children are going to see every day.”
Dlubac said the kids seemed very interested in the alpacas, and hopefully absorb many lessons from the open house event. “It's an opportunity for them to see that their food doesn't come from the grocery store, and that their clothing doesn't come from a department store. This is where it all comes from,” she said.
Besides being an educational opportunity for the younger group, the high schoolers take many lessons from hosting the open house. Teacher Calvin Brodersen said the high school students are able to present their topics because they have studied intently, but the event also gives them practice at speaking before groups – something useful in the agricultural field. “A lot of what they take in the classes prepares them for what they share with the first-graders,” Broderson said.
Agricultural Department Chair Karen Fitzpatrick said the department's seniors formed an open house committee, which met once a month to decide how the day will play out and to delegate the responsibilities. “They talked about all the things they needed to do,” she said, “and then we do spend a couple of days – all of the students – doing whatever we need to do for the day.”
“The presenters choose what stations they want,” Brodersen said. “It teaches them how to communicate educationally. If they can convey the knowledge that they have to a first-grader, then they can convey that knowledge to other people. The more opportunities that we give them to teach the public – whatever age – the better they're going to know it and the better prepared they are for whatever comes next.”