8th Grade Agricultural School Tours – 2022!

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8th Grade Agricultural School Tours were delivered to over 120 youth in Henderson County Public Schools. This was the 5th annual ag school tour to raise agricultural awareness and teach about careers in agriculture! These tours are designed to highlight farmers and introduce youth to the numerous careers in science, genetics, nutrition, business, economics, teaching, etc. within real-world experiences outside of the classroom.

We are thankful to our partners who take the time to create an incredible tour for our Henderson County youth! We had a total of four locations and 18 speakers!

Day 1 – Tours with Rugby Middle School and Hendersonville Middle School.

North River Farm

Jason Davis, farm owner and operator of North River Farms, welcomed 8th graders to his farm and shared about their operations! A group of students listening to a man speak outside.Other guests on location included: 

Ben, with RiverLink, with teaching activities about water quality.

Students sit at a picnic table inspecting worksheets. Students inspect PH balance.

Karen Blaedow teaching about tomato breeding and testing of pH levels! 

Students inspect a pumpkin under a tent.

Abby Whitaker with animal science and livestock!

Gleaning with Society of St. Andrew in North Rivers Farms fields!
Students with boxes of produce.
Note from North River Farm:
“It was the perfect day for Henderson County Cooperative Extensions 8th Grade Field Trip! We were excited to have Hendersonville Middle and Rugby Middle come to our farm to see a few different careers in agriculture; learn about bugs, pH levels, & livestock from Karen & Abby from HC Cooperative Ext. and learn about water quality from Ben at RiverLink!
The students finished out the tour learning about gleaning and then gleaned eggplants, tomatoes, and beans for the Society of St Andrews!
Can’t thank HC Extension enough for letting us be a part of this wonderful program every year!”

Mountain Horticulture Crops Research and Extension Center

Students in a lab with microscopes.Students look on as a man inspects a hole.

Career exploration and hands on education continued at the Mountain Horticulture Crops Research and Extension Center touring the entomology labs, breeding labs, the apple orchards and plant pathology, with Irene, Carrie, Sara and Silas! Soil and Water was the last stop on the tour with Dalton and April to learn about layers and the importance of healthy soils for our agriculture production!

Students in a lab.Students in an orchard.

Day 2 – Tours with Flat Rock Middle school and Apple Valley Middle school.

Blue Ridge Community College

Blue Ridge Community College is full of wonderful opportunities for our youth to begin their higher education. The youth were able to see how careers in science, engineering and technology are extremely important with todays agriculture/horticulture “fields!”
A woman uses lab equipment.
“We love an opportunity to educate young minds about all the options they have after high school. We were pleased to host 8th-grade students from Apple Valley and Flat Rock Middle Schools for part of their 4-H Field Trip. Our experts shared about the different careers within the agriculture and farming industries.Students listen to an adult in a forest.

Horticulture instructor Rachel Merriwether introduced the job opportunities within her field and the fun of driving a loader, composting, and exploring the wild science of plants.

The Engineering department shared how the skills they learn automate large-scale farming processes!” — Blue Ridge Community
A woman gives a presentation to a group of students.
Students heard about careers in Animal Science from Extension Agent, Abby Whitaker. Abby’s background and current career with Extension is a huge help to livestock owners diagnosing issues they may be experiencing and holding educational workshops.
Students ask a man in a greenhouse questions.
They also heard about importance of science in plant growth from a
visitor, Bert Lemkes from Tri-Hishtil. Tri-Hishtil is a greenhouse production site specializing in the grafting of vegetable plants. The schools got to take back newly grafted plants to their classrooms to complete the growing process!

Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard

Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard was another wonderful partnership location for the tour!

Students stand under a barn in an orchard.

Did you know, apples are the number one agriculture product in Henderson County? Followed closely by tomatoes as our second largest product! Youth were able to hear from the farmers of Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard and why agriculture education is so important!

Karen Blaedow and Dr. Terry Kelley enjoyed teaching youth about apple production, grafting, and why we have so many apple varieties through an apple tasting test and testing for pH levels and sugar content!

Students look at a table of samples. A table containing samples of apples.

Where would happen to our food without our pollinators? There would be none! While the honey bee is probably the most commonly heard of pollinators it is just one of thousands that do this work for us! Jim Poe with Henderson County Bee Keepers Club brought his observation hive and descriptive pictures to share about the process of pollinators and the important role they have! A beekeeper shows a frame from a bee hive.

A student fills out a form.Soil and Water was featured both tour days to shareabout soils, nutrients and the important role it plays in agriculture production! The youth got to explore different textures of soils with their hands and complete a scavenger hunt, (which included a real work mathematical equation commonly used in soil science) for a hands on educational opportunity and learn about careers.

Thank you to all our host locations, guest speakers, and Henderson County Public Schools who made this tour a great experience!