January 1, 1998, Victor
Jimenez, 4-H Extension Agent, assumed the challenge of developing
a statewide Ag-Literacy outreach educational program at the Maricopa
Agricultural Center. From 1992 - 1997 there had been an Ag-Literacy
field day experience that took place once a year targeting a few
local schools in nearby communities. From this base, a well developed
program targeting learners of all ages has evolved that currently
reaches more than 3,500 Arizona students and educators annually
This educational program experience is entitled MAC Farm Ag-Ventures and offers a variety of programs throughout the year. Included
in the program opportunities offered at this University of Arizona
research and educational farm are special times when winter visitors
from throughout the nation come to this center to learn about some
of the basics of how agriculture is carried out in an arid environment.
Educational field day programs take place primarily from September
through May of each calendar year and are generally four hours in
length. Participants experience a variety of educational stations
in both an indoor as well as outdoor setting.
programming at MAC is possible through an informal partnership of
community presenters located in Pinal and Maricopa Counties. As
a University of Arizona site located in the geographic center of
the state, most of the students and educators that participate in
the MAC Farm Ag-Ventures programs generally draws participation
from individuals that reside within a 50 mile radius of the MAC
Farm. As program interest grows, however, schools from throughout
the state are making a much longer journey so that their students
can be a part of this worthwhile program experience.
The MAC Farm Ag-Ventures educational programming
includes a combination of videos, educational presenters, hands
on learning experiences and trailer rides around certain parts of
the farm for a first hand view of the aquaculture, green houses,
irrigation systems and crops that are all part of the MAC Farm educational
Most programs begin with a bus load (or car loads) of people arriving
at the MAC Farm around 9:30 a.m. Upon entering the 30,000 square
foot Cardon Building, they immediately go to a large multi-purpose
room which can accommodate up to 200 people. General group size
ranges from 45-75 individuals. There is a charge for program registration.
Programs start with general presenter introductions followed by a 10
minute educational video. Next, participants experience three 15-20
minute rotating education station participations. After a 25 minute
time set aside for lunch, the afternoon programming includes a trailer
ride to a portion of this 2100 acre farm site. First hand learning
opportunities are experienced with participants trying their hand
at using water siphoning tubes, watching the fish being fed, visiting
a green house, checking out one of our cotton gins or harvesting
crops in one of MAC's fields.
Often, sample lessons, or packets of seeds are given for learners to
take home. In addition, special awards or prizes are given out for
fun to acknowledge certain individual participants for their
program involvement. Upon leaving, participants are asked for their
written feedback through evaluations that are handed out. Programs
generally conclude around 1:30 p.m..
Please refer to the educational programs document for a list of programs and general dates.