By Emily Johnson, Director of Marketing
On Monday, March 9, students of Saegertown Elementary paraded onto one of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s Mobile “Ag” Labs: one of six fully equipped trailers owned and operated by the Bureau that travel statewide to over 180 elementary and high schools, bringing hands-on agricultural education directly to the classroom.
The program, which is currently celebrating its tenth year of operation, has been welcomed back to Saegertown schools for the past five years, and hosts a variety of grade-level fifty minute lessons each day for classes and teachers to attend during its four day stay in the SES parking lot. During its time in Panther Country, the lab will be visited by over 20 classes, spanning from pre-school to sixth grade.
“I remember coming to the Ag Lab last year, too,” said third grader Jarried Green from Mrs. Tina Johnston’s class. “It was fun. I was excited to come today and do something different than last year.”
Green, along with his classmates, participated in an experiment taught by Mrs. Cathy Vorisek (or, as her students have affectionately dubbed her, “The Bee Lady”), one of over thirty teachers employed by the PA Farm Bureau. As each student situated themselves throughout personal learning areas lining the sides of the lab, Vorisek began by holding up a handful of soybeans and asking if anyone could identify them. After exploring the importance of soy in various household products, the students were then asked if they preferred Crayola or Prang crayons; composed of wax and soybeans respectively.
During the lesson, the third graders were introduced to vocabulary words such as “hydrogenated” and “ethanol”, and learned how to turn the data they collected during their experiments into an eight paragraph research papers using the steps of the scientific method.
Richard Williams, another of Mrs. Johnston’s third graders, enjoyed learning about the benefits of biodegradable soybean products through the Crayola vs. Prang experiment. “I liked this project a lot better than the one we did last year,” he said. “It was fun to use the different crayons.”
The soybean experiment is only one of the several lessons Vorisek presented to SES classes before she and the lab bid farewell on March 14.
“I’ve loved coming to Saegertown schools for the past five years and watching the students I had when they were in Kindergarten grow up and become more involved in the lessons,” said Vorisek. “We’re proud to bring agriculture directly to the classroom, and we hope the students carry these lessons with them for years to come.”