Each year during the fall harvest season, public schools from all around North Florida send youth to the Fall Harvest Experience located at the North Florida Research and Education Center-Suwannee Valley in Live Oak. In addition to hosting student participants from public schools, 4H members from around the region have also been invited to attend on a special day planned just for 4H youth. The Fall Harvest Experience includes an educational rotation for each of three topic areas: pumpkins, cotton, and a forage maze. Each year an estimated 2,000 students, volunteers, and teachers experience agriculture first hand by attending and participating in these activities. The 2018 event kicked off on October 23rd and will end November 8th.
What happens at the Fall Harvest Experience?
At the event, youth have an opportunity to engage in an active learning experience centered around nutrition, production, and marketing of pumpkin and cotton. Other aspects of the event include maneuvering through a maze, which is a blend of sunn hemp, sorghum, millet, and sunflowers. The students can view the fall plant scenery and learn about each of the crops blended together to form the unique maze. Students get to visit the field and select an ornamental pumpkin or gourd to take home. In addition, students will learn about the impact and importance cotton has to the south, and they can select a boll of cotton to take home. In addition this year, the Suwannee County Conservation District became a participant and created a fourth station to deliver information about conservation and offer remarks about what the district does for our agricultural community. This event has grown in popularity over the years and has become an annual fall tradition for surrounding public and private schools in the Suwannee Valley area.
Mrs. Laura Katherine Roberts, Suwannee Elementary School second grade teacher provided the following feedback on last year’s experience:
“The Fall Harvest Experience was a wonderful destination for our class field trip. The students learned about the importance of agriculture, both locally and globally. The instructors did a great job explaining the science behind growing crops and the process of getting our food from farm to table. Most importantly, all learning stations had hands-on activities which kept my students engaged and enthusiastic! Thank you for a super experience!”
For more information and updates on this year’s Fall Harvest Experience, contact the Suwannee County Extension Office in Live Oak.
UF/IFAS Extension in Suwannee County is an Equal Opportunity Institution.