Students spend a day on the farm

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A change of season has meant a vast improvement in the number of children reached at the Environmental Field Days this fall.

For years, the week of farm field trips had been held in April, but fewer students were able to go due to preparations for end-of-grade and end-of-course testing. The week was switched to October with much greater success.

“The time of year helped school participation, and the teachers enjoyed the presentations being more interactive,” said Norman Harrell, director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension office in Wilson County. “We were able to secure some funds to assist some schools with transportation expenses, and that helped as well.”

According to Harrell, 35 classes from 14 schools participated. That’s about 805 students.

Plans are now afoot to hold the Environmental Field Days at a similar time of the year in 2020.

Dwight Batts, owner of Batts Tree Farm, has donated his farm off Batts Road in eastern Wilson County’s Bridgersville community for the event for the last six years.

“Most children don’t come from farms anymore like they did once,” Batts said. “They don’t have a working knowledge of what goes on on a farm day-in and day-out, and they are not knowledgeable about where things come from. It is clear that they know very little about where all of these various agricultural products come from.”

“This is really an attempt to get them out not only to understand where all this comes from but also to understand that there are going to be jobs available in agriculture, and they need to begin to think about whether this is something they would want to do whether it’s in wildlife, water quality or forestry or crop farming or some type of governmental agency that helps support one of those enterprises,” Batts said.

The children spend about three hours visiting multiple stations manned by personnel from the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Wilson County Soil and Water Conservation, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency and the North Carolina Forest Service.

At the stations, children learn about water quality, soils and the effects of erosion, things that damage soils, wildlife, forestry and what kinds of products are made from things grown on farms.

“It helps them with all of the schoolwork that they have related to agriculture and water and the environment that they learn about in school,” Batts said.

Farmers who might be interested in hosting an Environmental Field Days trip are asked to call Harrell at 252-237-0111.