Agricultural Field Day Brings Marketing Into Focus

PRAIRIE VIEW, TX – The selling and marketing of food and other agricultural products, specifically at farmers’ markets, was the focus of the 2010 Agricultural Field Day held May 22 on the campus of Prairie View A&M University.  The College of Agriculture and Human Sciences hosted this annual event, which brought together more than 200 farmers, goat and beef cattle producers, vendors and other interested  persons.

Michael Kelling of the Central Texas Beekeepers Association, left, answers audience questions in the Beekeeping for Beeginners session.

“This is our 27th year of having the Field Day,” said Dr. Freddie L. Richards, Sr., dean of the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences.  “We had something to offer all age groups who came out this year.”

After greetings from Dr. E. Joahanne Thomas-Smith, provost and senior vice-president for Academic Affairs at PVAMU, and remarks from Dr. Kyle Smith, executive associate director for Texas AgriLife Extension, participants moved into the concurrent workshops.

“We offered workshops addressing beekeeping, rainwater harvesting, how to care for goats, goat judging basics, forage and pasture management, small acreage beef improvement project and many others,” said Dr. Richards. “Several of our Cooperative Extension agricultural agents and research specialists gave workshops presentations.”

Billy Lawton, program specialist- Agriculture & Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension Program, explains Rainwater Harvesting techniques to workshop participants. Milton and Diann Woods, owners of Millie's Barn Vegetables, are pictured on far right.

“Artificial insemination is one of the most effective tools available to enhance the productivity and profitability of beef cattle production systems, however we’re seeing that even though this tool has been commercially available for more than 65 years, it is still dramatically underused in today’s beef herds,” said Major Stevenson, Jr., Extension agent – Agriculture and Natural Resources – Fort Bend County and one of the presenters in the Small Acreage Beef Improvement Project workshop.

Kelvin Neal, left, and Major W. Stevenson, Jr., right, Extension agents, Cooperative Extension Program, give tour of Prairie View A&M University Farm.

“Using artificial insemination in your herds could mean increased weaning weights, improved post-weaning performance, enhanced carcass value and more productive replacement heifers,” said Stevenson.

“It is always a pleasure to attend and learn a lot about beef cattle production, goat management, and forage and pasture management at these field days,” said Leonard Montgomery, a resident of Cherokee County, who at 80 years old was the first African-American to own a pest control business in his county. “I just retired three years ago, but I am always interested in learning about the agricultural industry.”

ictured is Cherokee County Field Day participant, Leonard Montgomery.

In conjunction with the Field Day, the CAHS held a High School Career Day to expose young people to careers in the agricultural and human sciences. The youth learned how Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology is used in the field of agriculture. “I didn’t know that agriculture had so much to offer as a field of study,” said Kyle Holmes, a 10th grader at Central Medical Magnet High School in Beaumont, Texas. “What we’ve learned today about GIS applications is extremely interesting.”

High School Career Day students track coordinates of Prairie View Alumni Hall using GIS technology.

Holmes was one of eleven students that Ronald Kelley, an agriculture science teacher at Central Medical, brought to the High School Career Day.

“We definitely want to spread the word that the agricultural and human sciences are viable fields to pursue academically and as a career,” said Dr. Richards.

One of the participants at the Field Day, Diann Woods, former health inspector and owner of Millie’s Barn Vegetables in Eagle Lake, Texas, made a career choice to go into organic farming.  “I started farming in 2000 and became acquainted with Prairie View A&M University while serving on their agricultural advisory board,” said Woods.  “That is also when I started attending the agricultural field days on campus.”

Woods said that one of the workshops that she attended, Rainwater Harvesting, gave her some valuable information about the types of collection tanks to use for drip irrigation. “This information was very helpful,” Woods said.  “I’d like to say that Prairie View A&M University is a place to get information for people who want to do farming.”

The Field Day afternoon session featured the symposium, Marketing at the Farmers’ Markets, which was coordinated by Dr. Gary Newton, research leader, International Goat Research Center, and research scientist in the Cooperative Agricultural Research Center.

The Farmers’ Markets symposium had several presenters to inform the audience about safety requirements necessary for mobile food establishments in Texas, up-to-date licensing requirements needed to sell goods in the markets and other pertinent information.

In addition to attending workshops, Field Day participants toured the University Farm and the International Goat Research Center.

For more information about the Prairie View A&M University Agricultural Field Day, call 936/261-5072 or visit pvcep.pvamu.edu.

Writer – Gloria J. Mosby, program director – Communications, Cooperative Extension Program
Photo Credit:  Alecea Rush, communications specialist – Cooperative Extension Program

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