The average Maui farmer is over 60 years old, according to a news release from the Maui County Farm Bureau.
Since 2006, concerns about the future of local agriculture have prompted the bureau and other organizations to bring agriculture to Maui schools. Bureau Executive Director Warren K. Watanabe said, "Hands-on agricultural education benefits young people and the larger community."
Between August 2012 and February this year, 15 elementary schools representing more than 1,500 Maui 2nd-graders participated in the bureau's Agriculture in the Classroom program. About a 1,000 students took a field trip March 7 and 8 to the Maui Tropical Plantation to meet Maui farmers and ag educators.
Harrison Kehler of Ali‘i Kula Lavender teaches students the proper way to plant a lavender sprig with help from Koa Chang (standing). It was one of the presentations during a field trip.
Steve Brinkman photo
This year's field trip included presentations on "Canoe Crops" with the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources; "Daily Nutrition" with Maui Electric Co.; "Seed to Seed" by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.; "Parts of a Plant" with Monsanto Hawaii; "Planting a Lavender Sprig" with Ali'i Kula Lavender; and "Value-added Agriculture" with SoMoor. Maui Tropical Plantation provided a tram tour.
The bureau's grade school educational efforts focus on building awareness of where food comes from.
In high school and college, the emphasis shifts to career opportunities including plant and animal science, agricultural economics, human nutrition and environmental stewardship.
Agriculture in the Classroom includes in-class farmer presentations titled "Where Would We Be Without Seeds"; students learn about the life cycles of plants. The program was developed for 2nd-graders of any public, private or charter school willing to participate.
Agriculture in the Classroom will start again in August and continue through March 2014.
For more information visit www.mauicountfarmbureau.org.