'Ag-Citing' moves, tricks and lessons

Thursday, September 15, 2011
Super Chicken and Chicken Nugget, Agricadabra Mike and Clay Central-Everly student Gage Heissel, respectively, work on a magic trick during Ag-Citing Wednesday afternoon at the Clay County Fair. (Photos by Gabe Licht)

Area students learn about agriculture

Using various activities at the Clay County Fair, area students have been learning where their food comes from and other agricultural facts.

The Clay County Extension program is called Ag-Citing and includes an agricultural magic show, demonstrations about grains and maple syrup, a trip to the Sundholm Environmental Education Center cabin and a walkabout tour of the fairgrounds led by an agriculture ambassador.

"I like watching kids be excited and learning about agriculture," Ag-Citing Coordinator Cheryl Hurst said.

The 700 kids come from Buena Vista, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, O'Brien and Palo Alto counties.

"Where Does Our Food Come From?" was the theme for each 3-hour session.

Students learned during Agricadabra Mike's agricultural magic show that Iowa is No. 1 in producing corn, soybeans, pork and eggs, in addition to some other fun facts.

For example, the most yolks ever found in one egg was nine. Regardless of the number of yolks, a good egg will sink, while a bad egg will float, the agricultural illusionist advised the children.

Clay Central-Everly and area home-schooled students do the chicken dance for a chance to get on stage with Agricadabra Mike during the Amazing Ag Show, part of this year's Ag-Citing tour.

He shared numerous facts about chicken, such as their rapid heart beat -- 200 to 300 beats per minute -- and high body temperature -- 102 to 104 degrees. The comb on top of a rooster's head, and waddle on its chin, helps regulate that temp.

Each year, about 8 billion chickens are eaten.

Though Agricadabra's morphing into "Super Chicken" drew laughter and applause, he said Iowa's real super heroes are farmers, who help put food on the table and employ thousands of Iowans.

Cows also play their part, drinking 40 gallons of water and producing 25 gallons of milk per day. That adds up to 30,000 glasses of milk per day. Not to mention that the hide of one cow can be used to make 20 footballs.

One pound of wool from a sheep can make 27 yards of yarn, Agricadabra informed his fans. A sheep was also the first animal to be cloned, he added.

In addition to pork products, hogs also produce insulin to help people with diabetes, students learned.

Students went on to climb into John Deere tractors and get an up close and personal look at baby animals at Grandpa's Barn during their walkabout tour of the grounds.

Dr. Jesse Randall, an assistant professor and extension forestry specialist with Iowa State University, brought a portable maple syrup evaporator to the fair to show kids how the sweet product is made, even right here in Iowa.

Students, and some adults who join the fun at times, have seemed to enjoy the festivities thus far and prove that education can take place outside of the classroom.

Ag-Citing will continue with Spencer students on Thursday, with Estherville and Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn students coming to the fair Friday.

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