Southeast invites local Future Farmers of America students to attend annual field day
Monday, October 7, 2019
Photo by Pat Buck
About 580 high school students from 26 area high schools came to Southeast’s research center and greenhouse to participate in Southeast Department of Agriculture’s annual Education Field Day on Oct. 2.
The event gave Future Farmers of America students the opportunity to explore and learn about topics such as soil judging, water quality and livestock evaluation. Instructors also taught the students about unmanned aircraft systems and grain bin safety.
The day started near the Intramural Fields at the Hutson Horticulture Greenhouse and Nemanick Alternative Agriculture Garden before a short ride to the Barton Agriculture Research Center — all locations the department frequently uses.
Southeast students assisted throughout the day including sophomore Alyssa Obermeyer, an animal science pre-vet major, who said she helped the groups by taking the students around to each activity and stopping at each station.
Along with the Southeast students and faculty helping at the event, the Cape County Fire Department was present to demonstrate how to rescue a person from drowning in a grain bin. If this sounds like something out of John Krasinki’s “A Quiet Place,” it’s actually real. Instructor of Plant Science Robert McAlister says death by drowning in grain is a common problem for farmers and receives little media attention.
Rebecca Lewis, a junior agribusiness major, was part of the grain bin demonstration. She was given a helmet, face mask, gloves, and harness for safety. The Cape County Fire Department lowered her into a mock grain bin filled with corn. They demonstrated the dangers of the situation, how one would pull oneself out, and how the fire department would rescue the individual.
“I’m glad I volunteered because it was an amazingly eye opening experience, and although I’ve grown up knowing the dangers of grain bins it doesn’t hit as hard hearing about it as it doesn actually being in one,” Lewis said.
The entire department assisted throughout the day, and McAlister said everyone played a part one way or another.
“It’s all hands on deck, we’ll all be assisting in one way or another,” McAlister said.
The purpose of the event was to show off the university to FFA students while also sharing the possibilities of having a future in this career field.
“It is not necessarily a recruiting event,” McAlister said. “There is an ongoing need for professionals in the Ag industry. In every aspect from production, to business, to marketing, we are looking to expand students' horizons by showing students the opportunities that are available to them.”
While this might be McAlister’s first field day as a Southeast instructor, he’s not new to the event. He said he used to bring his students to the field day when he worked as a high school teacher. He also participated when he was a Southeast student.
“We try to make it enjoyable for those who attend,” McAlister said. “I remember it is always a fantastic day, a lot of opportunities, a lot of good education, and I’m now looking forward on the other side of things.”