Ag expo connects youth to agriculture

By: 
KateLynn Slaamot

KateLynn Slaamot

NLJ Correspondent

 

An agriculture expo was held for fourth-graders from the Elk Mountain, Upton and Newcastle schools on Sept. 12 at the Four Seasons Arena at the Weston County Fairgrounds, to educate the children on agriculture and its many topics, according to Taylor Rieniets, ag instructor at NHS. 

The ag expo occurs every year, and it includes many features associated with agriculture, Rieniets said. Many people and businesses come together to make the expo happen, and its purpose is to teach children about agriculture and related careers and fields. 

“They (children) have a lot to go through,” Rieniets said. A total of 13 stations were set up this year. The stations informed children about soils, welding, ice cream making, and more. Veterinarian Alicia Redding, Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife biologist Joe Sandrini and horse farrier Danny Williams were a few of those who gave their time to share their knowledge. Ty Checketts also gave wagon rides with his team of horses. 

One station is considerably worth noting, according to Rieniets. Junior Dylon Tidyman, who’s been a member of Newcastle’s FFA group for three years, put together a woodworking station, showing the kids basic woodworking skills. He said that he showed them the process of making a keychain and allowed them to take turns sanding wood. Tidyman also spent significant time handcrafting a keychain for each student who attended the expo – nearly 80 children. He said that although he remembers his time at the expo when he was younger and enjoyed it, he also recalled what it was like to be a fourth-grader and thought that the children would enjoy being able to get a souvenir. 

Tidyman, who started a woodworking business with his brother, Bryson, in March of last year, said that he enjoys producing something artistic that can also be useful. 

“We sell a lot of custom wood pens,” Tidyman said. The many different kinds of pens, he said, include fountain pens, slimline pens and even novelty pens. He also makes wine stoppers and bottle openers. 

“The fourth-graders seem to have
a blast,” Rieniets said. She said the kids enjoy talking with the high-schoolers, eating food and learning about agriculture. 

“I’ve learned a lot about animals,” Kali Martell, a fourth-grader, said. She said that the wagon ride was her favorite part. Another fourth-grader, John Sandrini, also favored the wagon ride. He also visited other stations, including the shooting sports station put on by 4-H, which he said he was “pretty good at.” 

The Upton and Newcastle FFA groups also put a lot of time and energy into the ag expo, and they help organize it, get in contact with people to present stations and also run stations of their own. Sophomore Sierra Checketts, this year’s reporter for Newcastle’s FFA, said that the expo is a great way to get the next generation involved and educated about agriculture. Checketts was involved in the petting zoo part of the expo.

 “I think that FFA is a great program,” said Checketts, who also noted that FFA helps to keep the agricultural field alive. She’s been a member for over a year, and she said that it has taught her a great deal. She said being involved in the program has helped her social skills grow, and she enjoys the activities and the different competitive events. She’s also on a livestock judging team and poultry judging team. FFA members are heavily involved in different public service opportunities, Checketts said, and they have partnered with the Students for Vets program at their school to help vets in need by completing yard work for them. 

Rieniets said that the ag expo allows children to obtain useful information about agriculture and she said that it is a great way for young children to explore something new. Rieniets also said that the expo could help the kids with decisions about a possible agricultural career later on in life. Rieniets said that being allowed to use the fairgrounds arena was a great help. 

“Agriculture is very much a part of our life,” Rieniets said. 

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