Field day provides glimpse of diversity of agriculture industry and careers

Numbers tell the story — 181 miles. That is the farthest distance traveled by a school to arrive at the University of Missouri Bradford Research Facility south of Columbia on Tuesday, Sept. 18. With 40 stations and 1,997 students, the Bradford Field Day was the largest to date.

“Stations ranged from producing maple syrup to the “classic” fistulated cow (a bovine with a tube inserted into the stomach compartment to allow for ruminant research),” said Andrew Biggs, Bradford Field Day event organizer.

This annual event appeals to the interests of students from multiple walks of life, and has grown over the years. Now, Bradford Field Day is a staple of many school’s agriculture programs. The day kicks off with a set of morning sessions that include all aspects of the agriculture industry: crop management, beekeeping, livestock production, and agriculture mechanics. Just as the students began to get tired and hot, it is time for lunch served by Lutz’s BBQ, a locally owned catering company. After lunch, the students head back out onto the farm for more educational sessions.

Jacob Blank, an MU junior studying agricultural education, helped to lead the agricultural education and leadership workshop.

“We have been sharing a little bit about agriculture and agriculture education here today by helping students figure out what part of the ag industry they are most interested in,” Blank said.

Blank and his fellow agricultural education students presented an interactive workshop that required students to get up and move around, while also providing them some relief from the heat outdoors. Much like Blank, all 40 of the presenters showed up with the goal of helping young agriculturists grow and learn.

Salisbury High School freshman, McKenna Stunderbeck, attended Bradford Field Day for the first time on Tuesday.

“I have really liked all the stations and cool things that I have learned today,” Stunderbeck said.

Stunderbeck had the opportunity to travel to Bradford with her FFA chapter as one of her very first FFA events of the year.

“My FFA chapter not only drove me to Bradford today, but also provided my meal,” Stunderbeck said.

FFA chapters from all across the state, like Salisbury, have started to integrate the Bradford Field Day into their curriculum, recruitment process, and rewards programs. This allows students like Stunderbeck to have the chance to learn about the agriculture industry.

Bradford Field Day is hosted at the Bradford Research Facility in conjunction with the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources. The research facility has over 15 test plots and 34 faculty who conduct research. Research at the center focuses on droughts, crops, bobwhite quail, biofuel and organic agriculture.