By Lori Greiner
During the first week of October, middle school students from Richmond got to experience first-hand Virginia’s No. 1 industry: agriculture. The students, along with parents and educators, traveled across the state exploring Virginia’s $55 billion agriculture industry during the five-day tour.
The 4-H Science, Commodities, and Industry Tour was designed to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and career awareness through experiential learning in agriculture and to support positive youth development in the city of Richmond. It was sponsored by the Growing 4-H Science grant and Richmond 4-H.
On the first day of the tour, a send-off was held at the Science Museum of Virginia with messages from Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore and Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Sandra Adams.
Adams told the students that only 2 percent of U.S. citizens are engaged in farming, and that the remaining 98 percent don’t always understand where their food comes from.
“If I, a city girl from Harrisonburg, can become commissioner of agriculture, just think what you can do,” she said.
During the tour, students visited family farms, Virginia Tech’s Agricultural Research and Extension Centers, alternative-farming venues, and related businesses.
“The mission was to engage, educate, and empower through agriculture, and we met the mark,” said Sarah Morton, director of Growing 4-H Science in Richmond.
“This week has been so much fun! I learned about where my food actually comes from,” said Sophia, one of the students. “I am so excited to go back to my school and tell them how we can get involved. I loved this trip and would definitely consider a career in STEM.”