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Celebrating National Ag Week

-Submitted photo
Manson Northwest Webster FFA members stand next to the row of large equipment they drove during “Drive your Tractor to School Day” in celebration of the 2019 National Ag Day.

For the past 40-plus years, one day has been set aside to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by American agriculture.

National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America. The ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society.

The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:

• Understand how food and fiber products are produced.

• Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

-Submitted photo
The parking lot at the Manson Northwest Webster High School in Manson filled up a little more with tractors taking up car spaces during the 2019 âDrive your Tractor to School Day.ã

• Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.

• Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.

National Ag Day is celebrated near the first day of spring in March each year. Those observances range from local businesses, organizations and schools recognizing the day, up to large gatherings in Washington D.C.

Jennifer Pickett, executive vice president/CEO of the National Agri-Marketing Association, the entity which manages National Ag Day said they are making adjustments to virtually celebrate the 48th anniversary of National Ag Day this year.

On March 23, National Ag Day will be celebrated by bringing approximately 100 college students to Washington D.C. virtually to help deliver the message of Ag Day to the Hill.

-Submitted photo The front row of the Southeast Valley High School parking lot in Gowrie filled with all sizes of tractors and even a combine in celebration of the 2019 National Ag Day event where FFA members drove their favorite piece of farm equipment to school.

Pickett said this will be quite different from the in person events held in years past.

“Usually we would celebrate Ag Day in Washington D.C. That would be kind of our national press push and so that last few years we have convened at USDA or National Press Club to put on a program that appealed to media and the ag industry,” Pickett said.

An agricultural reception would also be held for Hill staff and other agricultural industry people in Washington D.C., which included several commodity groups that would typically be meeting in Washington D.C. during National Ag Week.

Also in the past, 100 collegiate students comprised of FFA, 4-H and AFA were also brought to the nation’s capital to be included in National Ag Day events.

“The students would come from all over the country,” said Pickett. “They would have a day or so of message training where we would give them the tools to then carry the message of Ag Day to the Hill where they had scheduled visits with members of congress.”

Pickett said the National Ag Day website offers a variety of resources for use in print, online, and other media.

“We have different audiences that we try to appeal to,” she said. “On our website we have lots of tools and resources that will assist grassroots groups – local Farm Bureaus or even down to the local bank that want to plan an Ag Day event.”

That is one audience. The other, is for educational purposes.

“We also have a portion of our website that is dedicated to teachers and giving them ideas and helpful things they can do,” she said.

The ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society.

“We rely entirely on sponsorship and donations. Our money comes from ag companies, producer groups and even marketing agencies. They are all people that feel passionate about emphasizing the importance of National Ag Day and having a day to celebrate agriculture,” Pickett said.

Locally, the FFA chapters at Manson Northwest Webster and Southeast Valley are also taking part in the celebration of National Ag Week and National Ag Day.

Doug Gaul, FFA advisor for the Manson Northwest Webster FFA chapter, said they are planning on a “Drive your Tractor to School Day” to celebrate National Ag Day next week.

By doing this, not only is it fun for the kids to showcase their tractors for the day, they use the opportunity to raise awareness of agriculture, National Ag Day and FFA.

“It makes a statement when you see the entire line of tractors driving down the road and parked in the school parking lot,” he said. “One of the goals of FFA is to strengthen agriculture so this is just our way of drawing attention to it.”

Gaul said they have been celebrating the event for about 10 years now on or near National Ag Day.

“We are an agricultural community, yet still many people in the community take for granted the value and impact of agriculture,” he said. “We take it seriously as our job to prepare the future of agriculture and this is a fun way to show that young people are excited for the opportunities that are out there in the industry.”

Steve Kehoe, FFA advisor for the Southeast Valley School District, said they have been partaking in advertising in support of National Ag Day and are also planning a “Drive your Tractor/Pick-ups to School day.”

In addition, Kehoe said they are having a special ag-related dress up day at school with treats for those participating.

When Kehoe said he asked his FFA and agricultural education students why they choose to celebrate National Ag Day he said they all agreed it is to, “demonstrate and make the student body and staff aware how many families are involved with agriculture in this school district.”

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