Farm Bureau Ag Lab Visits Green Bank
Green Bank, WV – The West Virginia Farm Bureau’s Mobile Agriculture Education Science Lab paid a visit to Green Bank Elementary school last week. During the lab’s visit students at Green Bank had the chance to perform lab experiments and learn about the variety of products made from West Virginia-grown commodities.
With activities that target students in pre-school through fifth grade, Lab Coordinator Helen Hardman says her hope is that the lab shows students around West Virginia that no matter where they live, they’re touched by agriculture every day.
Hardman says that after her own daughter became seriously ill, she left an 18-year career with WVU Extension Service and spent time with her daughter on the family farm. It was during this time that Hardman began to sow the seeds for the idea of the mobile agriculture lab.
“We would weigh and measure grain, or we would count black cows and white cows Charolais to Angus and to ratios of cattle to how much food they eat,” Hardman says. “I fell in love with the idea that I would love to have a different type of teaching that would do science experiments with students.”
Hardman got in touch with people who started a similar project in Maryland to learn how to put together such a mobile lab. She then pulled together a dozen $5,000 sponsors to make West Virginia’s mobile lab a reality. Additional sponsors keep the lab rolling from school to school.
The mobile Ag lab traveled to schools around the state for six months of last year and was featured at the State Fair of West Virginia. This school year, Hardman says the lab has been on the road every week that schools were open. During the lab’s week at Green Bank, students were doing everything from analyzing the fat content of snack foods to making crayons from soy.
At the end of the week Hardman said she hopes students walk away with a deeper understanding of the role of agriculture and an enjoyment of science.
“The biggest plus for me would be that they walk out of here knowing that agriculture in West Virginia is more than just a farmer with a truckload of cows going down the road, because we make so many things from our beef products,” Hardman says. “I’ve had kids linger around the door on Friday and say, I never liked science until I was in here. I want to be a scientist now.'”
Emma Beard, who donated some of the money to bring the lab to the school, spoke to the value of bringing such an enrichment opportunity to the school.
“I think everything that children can learn is advantageous,” Beard said, “and they never get enough.”