Thanks to a new 26-foot learning lab on wheels, Alabama elementary and middle school students can experience farming through hands-on activities and audio visual technology.

The “Ag in Action” lab is the first of its kind in Alabama and one of only four in the nation.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency partnered with seven soil and water conservation districts and other groups to create this educational tool.

“Ag in Action is an amazing way to bring agriculture to life and teach students about agriculture,” said the lab’s coordinator, Sarah Butterworth. “Using the lab, students will learn where their food and fiber grows and how it is produced.”

The lab boasts life-like farm scenes of cattle, poultry, crops, trees and other agriculture products. Inside the lab, a simulator allows students to drive a machine, riding in a vibrating seat and viewing a large screen television with videos of harvesting cotton, corn and soybeans.

The lab’s interior also has videos of a cattle ranch, chicken house and forestry operation. Four computer stations allow students to learn the importance of farming using touch screen technology.

A large screen TV is mounted on the exterior of the trailer, providing an additional learning station that shows virtual visits to local farms and agricultural-related venues.

“Teaching today’s youth about conservation is important because what the future environment looks like will depend directly on them,” said William Puckett, NRCS state conservationist in Alabama.

“NRCS is proud to be a partner in the Ag in Action lab. It is a teaching tool that allows students to learn about conservation education in a fun, hands-on way.”

The Ag in Action lab is already visiting schools and other agricultural events in the seven-county area in northeast Alabama.

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