PALMETTO -- More than 1,000 third graders descended on the Manatee County Fairgrounds to learn about many different facets of agriculture -- and with 30 different stations, there was a lot to learn Thursday morning.
"I think it's important for young people to understand the value of agriculture in their lives," said Diana Smith, 4-H coordinator for Farm City Week. "Young people don't always understand the significance of the land and that all things come from the land. If you have a great regard for the land, where your food source comes from, I think it makes you a better citizen."
Ag Venture launched Farm City Week, a nearly 60-year-old event that provides insight into the world of farmers. It welcomed the third-graders from schools including Palmetto Elementary, Orange-Ridge
Bullock Elementary and Palma Sola Elementary.
Students went around to six stations with their group, learning about plants, bees, herbs, cows, fruit, fire in agriculture, water conservation, rabbits and more.
Animals were a favorite among the students.
"My favorite part was watching the cows," said Kimberly Hernandez, a third-grader at Palmetto Elementary. "They were mooing."
Latorika Gibson, a third-grader at Orange Ridge-Bullock, liked the rabbits.
"I learned that some bunnies have sharp teeth, and that some are fluffy and some are not," she said.
All students were given a tomato plant to take home and care for, to get more firsthand experience with agriculture on their own.
"We're learning how to plant tomatoes," said Lucia Pucheta, a student at Virgil Mills Elementary. "You can make a lot of salsas and things out of tomatoes."
Smith said she felt all the stations were important in getting the students to realize they can't take the land for granted.
"They're looking at agriculture, the value of land and water, and how it's all inter-connected with our food source," Smith said. "I think that's important everywhere. If we're going to be productive citizens, if we're going to promote this whole green movement and being ecologically friendly, then everybody has to do their part."
Farm City runs from Nov. 13 to Nov. 21, with different events each day.
Kate Irby, online reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055.