OXFORD — More than 500 students from Western Maine are expected to attend Education Day at Oxford Fair on opening day Wednesday.

The goal is to teach them the importance of agriculture and conservation, Jeannie Federico of the Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District said.

“This includes the process of farming, the conservation of agricultural and natural resources and the historical contribution of agriculture and conservation to our region,” she said.

Children will be coming from schools in the Oxford Hills, from RSU 10 in Rumford-Dixfield-Buckfield, from SAD 44 based in Bethel,  pre-schools, private schools and many home schools.

“The ages of these children are going to range from 3 up to 10 or 11, with a few outside that range because they may be part of a family attending,” Federico said. “We know that this year we have well over 500 children registered to attend.”

During the day, students will be exposed to many learning opportunities. Federico said they will be able to participate in learning activities, ranging from the care of bees to a discussion of blacksmithing, gems and minerals, and a meet and greet with the Oxford Police Department. They will also build a Gnome house, learning what a Burl is and see a demonstration of how to churn butter, according to information from Federico.

Becky Mosley from the Oxford County Extension office will  demonstrate butter churning and has a new glass butter churn to try out, Federico said. “RoseBeck Farm is supplying the cream.”

The demonstrations will include a lot of hands-on learning experiences for the children, she said.

Jim Chandler, a teacher at the Auburn Land Lab, started the Agricultural Education Day in 1988.

“We got a Special Education Award for it from the Maine Agricultural Fair Association in 1989,” Chandler said Friday. Agricultural Education Day “has since spread to the Farmington Fair and I believe it was also modeled by the Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District. We also did it at the Cumberland Fair for a number of years,” he said.

The students are expected to spend about 10 to 15 minutes at each station and teachers have been sent learning materials prior to the day so they have some discussion about what they will see.

The children will be at the fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and bring a bag lunch to eat.

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