First SLV AgFest opens educational doors for area students

Photo by Lyndsie Ferrell Colorado State University San Luis Valley Extension Director Larry Brown worked with San Luis Valley students during the first AgFest held at the Outcalt Event and Conference Center at SLV Ski Hi Complex in Monte Vista on Feb. 8 and 9. Brown manned a booth dedicated to pollination education and the role bees play in agriculture and everyday life. 

MONTE VISTA — Students from across the San Luis Valley gathered at the Outcalt Event and Conference Center at SLV Ski Hi Complex in Monte Vista on Feb. 8 and 9 for the first San Luis Valley AgFest.

The educational event was hosted by the Colorado State University San Luis Valley Area Extension office and San Luis Valley 4-H Club with partners through the Colorado Potato Administration and the Rio Grande Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative. The event was an effort to bring agricultural education to fifth-grade students that would fit with their science curriculum and give them the opportunity to learn about agriculture in the Valley.

“We had Alamosa fifth-grade students on the first day and then we welcomed all of the other schools on the second day. It has been a really great time and I think the students have been enjoying themselves,” said CSU SLV Area Extension Director Larry Brown.

Brown manned a station in the event and spoke with attending students about the importance of bees in the agricultural community as well as everyday life. The bee station was one of nine stations where students learned about a wide range of topics, all leading back to agriculture.

The SLV Area Extension Office prides itself in providing agricultural education throughout the San Luis Valley and had just recently finished up the 2022 Southern Rocky Mountain Agriculture Conference and Tradeshow the previous week. The conference was the first in two years to be held in person and the first-ever to be held in the new Outcalt Center.

The students attending the AgFest were impressed with the new facility. Several could be heard commenting on how big the building seemed and how nice it was.

The AgFest started with a common-knowledge test that tested students on their basic knowledge of agriculture in the Valley. After completing the test, students were divided into groups by school and went from station to station to learn about pollination, soil, honey, embryology, dairy farming, water quality, erosion, gardening and beef production.

“It is a great opportunity to share this part of agriculture with the students,” said Brown as he moved on to his next presentation on bees.

4-H Youth Development Agent Morgan Young used her experience from previous AgFest events in Pueblo and the eastern part of Colorado to organize the event for Valley students.

“We did an AgFest in Pueblo when I was in that area in 2006-2007 and when I came down here to the Valley, I couldn’t believe that we didn’t do anything like that, so I wanted to give the schools a chance to participate in an event,” said Young.

Young invited 14 schools to participate in the AgFest and received generous feedback from teachers, students and staff.

“We have been very excited about the program, and we are looking forward to having it again next year. We may make it a little bit different but all in all we were really happy with how it came out,” Young of the first outing.

Brown said the CSU SLV Extension Office was grateful for the work and planning by Young and that they were looking forward to next year.

"I was really excited about the event, and it turned out really great. It was just fantastic. We are so proud of Morgan for her work on this and I was excited to be a part of it,” Brown said.