WAILUA — Agriculture is important because everyone in the world benefits from it, said Koloa Elementary School fifth grader Koa Hughes.
“It helps clean the air,” Hughes said. “It also helps keep the water clean.”
Hughes was one of nearly 650 sixth-grade students from Kauai’s public, private, and home schools who converged at the Kauai Agriculture Research Center for the annual Ag Awareness Day Thursday, hosted by the Kauai Farm Bureau and the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.
“Everything we eat is from the sun,” said Pili Paa, a student from Kanuikapono Public Charter School. “My favorite thing was playing the wheel at the invasive species tent. We need to control the invasive species so our native plants can grow.”
During the daylong excursion, a variety of exhibits, lectures and hands-on demonstrations were held.
“I learned there are lots of endangered species on our island,” said Lilia Street, a Kanuikapono student. “We need to control the invasives so the endangered species can grow.”
Hughes said the most interesting item for him was how they were extracting DNA from strawberries.
“When you leave today, you will know how to extract DNA from strawberries using items you have at home,” said Sarah Thompson of DOW Agrosciences, who led the hands-on demonstration. “Every one of you will have a vial of strawberry DNA which you can inspect closer at home and show your family.”
The technological side of agriculture also impressed Alan Smith of Syngenta Seeds, who said he kept watching the students become fascinated as they looked through the wide variety of items derived from corn.
Emma Hanchett of Kilauea Elementary School gave away her tomato plant.
“I have too many at home,” Hanchett, who enjoyed the master gardener program on propagation, said. “I like planting, but we have too many plants so I gave mine to Nyla Say.”
Herbert Keamoai, instructor and advisor for the Kauai High School Future Farmers of America, said his group of students were asked to help get the different groups started through the different stations set up at the Wailua agriculture facility.
“It’s good because kids need to be educated about agriculture,” said Billie Bukoski, an FFA member. “My friends and I took a class in agriculture at school and became interested. Every one of us have lives in agriculture.”