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Agriculture in the Classroom takes second-graders to a working cattle ranch

By Staff | May 9, 2019

In 2006, Maui County Farm Bureau launched “Agriculture in the Classroom.” It has been growing ever since. A ten-month series of in-class farmer presentations and on-the-farm field activities, titled “Where Would We Be Without Seeds,” centered on the life cycle of plants. PHOTO BY STEVE BRINKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY. 

MAKAWAO – More than 1,300 second-graders, teachers and chaperones from Maui public and private schools participated in the Maui County Farm Bureau’s annual Agriculture in the Classroom field trip held recently over two days at Haleakala Ranch.

The field trip is the second half of a two-part lesson plan titled “Where Would We Be Without Seeds,” which has students learning about the life cycle of plants from Maui farmers, ranchers and agriculture educators.

“Everyone involved in this field trip feels it’s important to educate Maui’s youth about agriculture,” said Warren K. Watanabe, executive director of the Maui County Farm Bureau (MCFB).

“The activity stations and overall lesson plan allows us to provide information to the students about where their food comes from, the connection between themselves and the land, the importance of healthy soil and the various parts of plants, about nutrition and making good food choices, and the diverse career pathways in Maui’s agriculture industry.”

“Over the last few years, Haleakala Ranch has been the host venue for the AIC field trip. Teachers tell us that some of their students have never been Upcountry or on a working cattle ranch,” said Greg Friel, vice president/livestock manager at Haleakala Ranch.

“We’re happy to provide a memorable experience, and we believe it’s important to share our work and the work of the other presenters so kids are exposed to agriculture on Maui.”

Organized by MCFB with the support of the County of Maui Office of Economic Development, and hosted on the grazing lands of Haleakala Ranch, AIC brings together agriculture educators and agencies from the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and Master Gardeners; Maui Soil and Water Conservation Districts; Bayer-Crop Science, Maui; Maui Electric Company with support from Kula Country Farms; Maui Gold Pineapple Co.; and Meadow Gold to host activity stations with ag themes, including “Hawaii’s Canoe Plants,” “Nutrition,” “Parts of the Plant,” and “Soil Health.”

Haleakala Ranch presented two stations. The first centered around animals on the ranch, and the second included some of their conservation partners from the West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership, The Nature Conservancy, Haleakala National Park, state Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and Maui Invasive Species Committee.

They worked with the students to make koa seed balls, which will be distributed on the southern slopes of Haleakala National Park in an effort to bring back native forest to that area.

“If families want to get their hands dirty and make more koa seed balls for the reforestation project, we’ll be in the Keiki Zone at the Maui AgFest & 4-H Livestock Fair on Saturday, June 1, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at War Memorial Special Events Field. It’s free and fun,” said Jordan Jokiel of Haleakala Ranch.

Participating schools come from all areas of Maui. On day one, there were 580 students from nine schools, including Kula, Carden Academy, Lihikai, Pukalani, Waihee, Maui Adventist, Wailuku, St. Anthony and Hana.

On the second day, there were six schools with 685 students from Pomaikai, Princess Nahi’ena’ena, Kahului, Pu’u Kukui, Makawao and Doris Todd Christian Academy.

MCFB is a grassroots 501(c)(5) organization of farms and ranch families, agricultural industries and associated organizations dedicated to supporting agriculture in Maui County.

It is affiliated with both the state wide Hawaii Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation.