Evans City students work with mobile ag education lab

| Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 5:50 p.m.

The students at Evans City elementary and middle school are getting a hands-on education in farming, food and the environment.

The Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau's Mobile Ag Education Science Lab arrived at the campus the schools share on Jan. 13. It will be there until Friday.

“It's an opportunity for kids to have some idea where their food comes from and the roles that farmers play in their lives in providing healthy and safe food,” said Mark O'Neill, farm bureau spokesman.

Evans City PTO co-president Kristin Hinshaw said students are giving the lab positive reviews. They can germinate seeds there under different conditions, make crayons from soybeans and test the water capacity of different soils.

“One of the reasons it's so popular is the kids love doing it,” O'Neill said. “It's usually a very hands-on experience. And while they're having all this fun, they're learning as well.”

The lessons learned in the lab meet Pennsylvania state education standards for science and technology, as well as environmental and ecology studies.

Though the lab seems like fun and games for the students, its purpose is to remind students what farming and agriculture are about, O'Neill said.

“So many of our kids are removed from farming and from agriculture. They didn't grow up on farms, didn't grow up next to them. They don't know that food doesn't just come from the grocery store,” he said.

The ag lab is one of six owned by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. The program began in 2003 with one lab and became so popular that the bureau expanded it fleet.

Bringing the mobile ag lab to Evans City cost $5,200, Hinshaw said. It was paid for with contributions from the Butler County Farm Bureau, Burgh Implement Inc., Mars Agway, McElhinny Farms, Kellar Farms, Pennsylvania Soybean Board and American Agriculturalist Foundation.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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