Kuna expo opens students’ eyes to agriculture
Published: May 6,2010
It’s agricultural exposition season at a number of Idaho high schools. Kuna’s event, held every other year, drew about 4,500 students in first and second grades during the week of May 3.
Kuna High School students run the multi-day event, bringing in all animals and equipment, scheduling classes, leading tour groups and teaching.
“It’s a great experience for them,” KHS agricultural science instructor Travis Edwards said of the high school students. “We get to see a lot of our kids come out of their shells.”
They get a leadership opportunity and a chance to teach – one way for them to make sure they know the material, he said. The student leaders, in grades 9-12, belong to the Future Farmers of America chapter at Kuna High. KHS has three agriculture teachers.
One point of the Kuna Ag Expo is to promote a greater understanding of agriculture, said Edwards, who first participated as an elementary student and returned as a student instructor while attending Kuna High. His father, Kuna-area farmer Glen Edwards, also served as student instructor while attending KHS.
As for the first- and second-grade students attending, “a lot of these kids get their food ‘from the store’ and never have contact with the source,” Travis Edwards said. They get to see food sources, and see and interact with farm animals.
Inside one of the KHS buildings, lines of students stop at pens – often reaching out once trust is established. Outside, one group returns from a hay ride and members of another group take turns climbing up into the cab of a farm vehicle, sit at the controls and exit.
“There’s a lot more to agriculture than cows and plows,” Edwards said.
Children who participate in the Kuna High ag expo sign up well in advance. Students from several school districts in southwest Idaho participated this year.
Brandi Hukill, a Kuna High School senior, said challenges include making sure everything is ready to go, and, at times, dealing with the weather. It’s important to make sure the first- and second-grade students have fun. She grew up around animals, and enjoys seeing how the young kids interact with them, she said.
KHS senior Jessica Reynolds, whose father raises crops and animals, said most of the kids like getting close to the animals at the expo. Only a couple were afraid, she said.
Classes in the Kuna High agriculture program cover topics such as farming basics, ag mechanics and welding, farm business management, plant science, greenhouse management, small engine repair and zoology.
Most of the KHS ag students take the classes because they are interested in the subject, Edwards said. Some classes are offered for college credit at the University of Idaho, the College of Southern Idaho and the College of Western Idaho.
“Some want to make a career of it,” he said. Students recently show more educational and career interest in agricultural communications. And the technological side is evolving, especially in plant science, he said.
Edwards sees increased enrollment in the KHS agricultural program even though fewer of the students come from farms.
Students see a lot of opportunity in this course of study,” he said. Former Kuna High ag students can be found working for land management agencies or agricultural companies, among other employers.
Hukill and Reynolds said they plan to study agriculture in college. Hukill aims to study animal science, Reynolds animal science or agricultural education.