History of Ag-Literacy Outreach at the MAC Farm
January 1, 1998, Victor Jimenez, 4-H Extension Agent, assumed the challenge of developing a statewide Ag-Literacy outreach educational program at the Maricopa Agricultural Center. From 1992 - 1997 there had been an Ag-Literacy field day experience that took place once a year targeting a few local schools in nearby communities. From this base, a well developed program targeting learners of all ages has evolved that currently reaches more than 3,500 Arizona students and educators annually at MAC.
This educational program experience is entitled MAC Farm Ag-Ventures and offers a variety of programs throughout the year. Included in the program opportunities offered at this University of Arizona research and educational farm are special times when winter visitors from throughout the nation come to this center to learn about some of the basics of how agriculture is carried out in an arid environment. Educational field day programs take place primarily from September through May of each calendar year and are generally four hours in length. Participants experience a variety of educational stations in both an indoor as well as outdoor setting.
Educational programming at MAC is possible through an informal partnership of community presenters located in Pinal and Maricopa Counties. As a University of Arizona site located in the geographic center of the state, most of the students and educators that participate in the MAC Farm Ag-Ventures programs generally draws participation from individuals that reside within a 50 mile radius of the MAC Farm. As program interest grows, however, schools from throughout the state are making a much longer journey so that their students can be a part of this worthwhile program experience.
What is a MAC Farm Ag-Ventures program like?
The MAC Farm Ag-Ventures educational programming includes a combination of videos, educational presenters, hands on learning experiences and trailer rides around certain parts of the farm for a first hand view of the aquaculture, green houses, irrigation systems and crops that are all part of the MAC Farm educational experience.
Most programs begin with a bus load (or car loads) of people arriving at the MAC Farm around 9:30 a.m. Upon entering the 30,000 square foot Cardon Building, they immediately go to a large multi-purpose room which can accommodate up to 200 people. General group size ranges from 45-75 individuals. There is a charge for program registration.
Programs start with general presenter introductions followed by a 10 minute educational video. Next, participants experience three 15-20 minute rotating education station participations. After a 25 minute time set aside for lunch, the afternoon programming includes a trailer ride to a portion of this 2100 acre farm site. First hand learning opportunities are experienced with participants trying their hand at using water siphoning tubes, watching the fish being fed, visiting a green house, checking out one of our cotton gins or harvesting crops in one of MAC's fields.
Often, sample lessons, or packets of seeds are given for learners to take home. In addition, special awards or prizes are given out for fun to acknowledge certain individual participants for their program involvement. Upon leaving, participants are asked for their written feedback through evaluations that are handed out. Programs generally conclude around 1:30 p.m..
What Ag-Venture Programs are available and when?
Please refer to the educational programs document for a list of programs and general dates.