Not very many kids these days aspire to be farmers. The job has a bad rap (we’re thinking the hours, the debt, the smell…) but Maui County Farm Bureau (MCBF) has taken up the good fight to bring agriculture education to elementary schools around Maui. Considering that the Farm Bureau says the average age of a farmer on Maui is 60, this is a good thing. Their Agriculture in the Classroom program reached 1,500 second grade students at 15 different elementary schools in the county from August 2012 to last February.
About a thousand of those students took a field trip to Maui Tropical Plantation Mar. 7-8. There they got firsthand looks into the agriculture industry. They met Maui farmers and watched a variety of presentations from the community.
The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources presented “Canoe Crops;” Maui Electric Company presented “Daily Nutrition;” even Monsanto Hawaii got into the act with their “Parts of a Plant.” Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm showed the kids “Planting a Lavender Sprig” while Coconut Willie offered them “Amazing Coconuts.” And, of course, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar taught “Seed to Seed.” Then the kids took the plantation tram tour and SoMoor demonstrated the concept of “Value-added Agriculture.”
The program started in 2006. For young children, MCFB aims their education programs on building awareness of where our food comes from: not a bag or a can, but from things grown by seeds. At the high school and college level they focus on career opportunities like environmental stewardship, ag economics, plant and animal sciences and human nutrition.
Any school can participate–charter, public, or private. The next installation begins in August. For more information, visit mauicountyfarmbureau.org.