You've reached the Virginia Cooperative Extension Newsletter Archive. These files cover more than ten years of newsletters posted on our old website (through April/May 2009), and are provided for historical purposes only. As such, they may contain out-of-date references and broken links.

To see our latest newsletters and current information, visit our website at

Newsletter Archive index:

Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

AgEcon/NAMA Club Provides Ag Experience at State Fair

Farm Business Management Update, December 2000

By Dixie Watts Reaves, Kelly Shank, and Allison McNett

For the third consecutive year, the AgEcon/NAMA Club teamed with Atlantic Rural Exposition and a number of sponsors from the agribusiness industry to provide an agricultural education exhibit for state fairgoers. The 2000 exhibit, located in the Old Dominion Livestock Center and entitled The Ag Experience, was co-chaired by Agricultural and Applied Economics students Kelly Beckley and Allison McNett. With the assistance of many other club members, they created an educational display that focused on both crop and animal agriculture in Virginia. During the ten days of the fair, Virginia Tech students at the educational booth, dressed in bright orange and termed "Ag Ambassadors," provided an estimated 17,000 fairgoers with basic agricultural facts about Virginia and U.S. agriculture.

This year's booth was set up to capitalize on the fair theme, Viva la Fiesta. A large taco shell was placed on display in the educational seating area where fairgoers gathered to learn agricultural facts. In an entertaining and interactive setting, school children and accompanying adults learned what agricultural products were in the ingredients of a taco, and younger children assisted Ag Ambassadors in velcro'ing the ingredients onto the giant taco shell. Additional exhibits indicated, through pictures and product samples, how wheat becomes flour and how raw milk becomes pasteurized, homogenized milk. To represent the diversity of agriculture in Virginia, a large cut-out of the state of Virginia displayed pictures of commodities in the areas where they are most prevalent in the Commonwealth.

The biggest draw of the Ag Experience exhibit was a hands-on activity, geared to youth but enjoyed by fairgoers of all ages. Building on the concept of sand art for the second year, fairgoers created their own grain art in plastic honey jars, which they could take home as Ag Experience souvenirs. Fifty-five hundred grain art jars were created by fairgoers during the ten days of the fair. Exhibit visitors were also provided with a sticker declaring, "I'm Ag Experienced!" with a picture of the Virginia Tech Hokie Bird driving a tractor. Additionally, fairgoers were provided with informational brochures (containing data provided by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) with the Ag Experience logo and Hokie Bird picture on the front and a list of sponsors on the back. Sponsors for the 2000 Ag Experience were:

Platinum (at least $5,000): Virginia Farm Bureau Federation
Silver ($1,000 - $2,499): Virginia Agribusiness Council
Maroon ($500 - $999):Colonial and Blue Ridge Farm Credit
Southern States Cooperative, Inc.
Orange ($1 - $499):Cooperative Milk Producers
Virginia Poultry Federation
Virginia Crop Improvement

More than 20 students served as Ag Ambassadors during the course of the fair. Club advisors Eluned Jones, Dixie Watts Reaves, and Alex White assisted the students with the preparation of the display, while Reaves and White also served as Ag Ambassadors.

For additional information about the "Ag Experience," contact Dixie Reaves at (540) 231-6153 or

Contact the author at

Visit Virginia Cooperative Extension