‘Ag Magic on the River’ brings classroom to the outdoors

AgMagic on the River is a collaboration between the Meraux Foundation and the LSU AgCenter

By Barry Lemoine, NOLA.com

Magic may be in its title, but bringing Ag Magic on the River to life each year takes more than the swish of a magic wand. It requires a lot of hard work from staff and volunteers.

Held each year at the Docville Farm in Violet, Ag Magic on the River is a four-day educational event takes hundreds of students on an interactive journey of Louisiana agriculture and food. The project is the product of a collaborative agreement between the Meraux Foundation and LSU Ag Center.

This year, third through sixth grade students from St. Bernard, Jefferson, Orleans and Plaquemines parishes will have the opportunity to tour the farm and learn the importance agriculture plays in their everyday lives. The dates for the youth field trips are Wednesday, May 10 through Friday, May 12. The exhibits are also open to the public on Saturday, May 13 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Beth Gambel of the LSU Ag Center said the event also provides opportunities for urban students, teachers, and parents to learn about agricultural products, coastal restoration and the importance of aquaculture in our region.

“This event is a hands-on learning opportunity for students to learn about various careers in agriculture while learning how important it is to respect the land that provides our food, shelter and clothing,” she said.

Visitors will touch live farm animals, handle eggs and hold crawfish. They will observe bees in their honeycombs and learn about the role bees and butterflies play in pollination. Students will also see, touch and learn about plant production – wheat, rice, vegetables, sugar and cotton. Coastal restoration exhibits will be included.

Gambel encourages everyone to come out and enjoy this great venue and this great event. She was also quick to credit the Meraux Foundation and board members, Chris and Bill Haines for their support.

“They really make this event possible,” she said.

The serene farm setting and the view of the river are the setting for chidlren strengthening their math, science and social studies knowledge, Gambel said.

“They learn ways they can promote the science of agriculture, nutrition and health to their families and peers,” she said. “Through these opportunities students, teachers and families learn ways to accept responsibility for protecting the wonderful resources we have.”

Lauren Faust, a spokesperson for the LSU Ag Center, said she needs volunteers to make more magic this year.

“We are in need for as many as 40 volunteers per day to make Ag Magic a success and provide educational opportunities for students,” Faust said.

She said volunteers serve as exhibit hosts and are given talking points to share as students visit each station.

“Presentations last approximately five minutes and cover subjects related to Louisiana agriculture,” Faust said.

Volunteers are needed on Wednesday, May 10, Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for school groups. On Saturday, May 13, the Ag Magic is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To volunteer, email Lfaust@agcenter.lsu.edu, call 504.908.9711 or sign up online at https://tinyurl.com/AgMagic2017.

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