Emerson Elementary School student Adam Kauh recently received a $500 scholarship, thanks to an essay he wrote that explained why agriculture is cool.

Four fifth-grade students across Ohio each received a $500 scholarship earlier this month for their participation in the “Ag (Agriculture) is Cool” education program held during the Ohio State Fair in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio’s agricultural commodity groups.

“In reading Adam’s essay about his experience, his enthusiasm was infectious,” said Virgil Strickler, general manager of the Ohio State Fair.

“He didn’t just share the facts of what he learned; he creatively showed a genuine interest in how agriculture ties to his daily life – from the soap he uses to the eggs he eats. We read a lot of essays and Adam’s truly stood out from the crowd.”

Emerson Principal Chris Doolittle said the school held a Nov. 1 award ceremony that included a presentation from the Ag Council.

In his essay, Adam wrote about what he learned at the fair, including information about century farms, cows and chickens.

“Chickens! Let’s talk poultry,” he wrote. “There are two Ohio counties that have the greatest number of layer chickens in the entire country. Those bragging rights go to Darke and Mercer counties for having too many chickens to count. I did research and found that Ohio as 30 million egg-laying chickens, the U.S. has 9 billion chickens overall and the world has between 19 and 50 billion chickens. Also, Ohio is ranked No. 2 in the nation for egg production, with over 7 billion eggs laid per year. One word: Wow.”

Overall, Adam said, his entire essay was the result of an awesome trip around the fair.

“It was all worth it as I learned a lesson on how agriculture connects to nearly everything we do,” he said. “All in all, I learned that Ag is Cool.”

The Ag is Cool program, which celebrated its seventh year in 2017, provides free admission for any exiting fourth-grade student and a chaperone to visit the Ohio State Fair to learn about agriculture.

Once at the fair, the students visit 10 different stations located in barns, education centers and livestock facilities to find answers to questions such as “How many glasses of milk does a dairy cow produce each day?” or use information they have learned to name surprising products that are made using soybeans.

Students who visit those stations return home to write an essay or creative story about what they learned.

Alicia Shoults, fair marketing director, said the essays are reviewed by a panel of judges and narrowed down to four to be honored as the best in the state.

Representatives from the Ohio State Fair, Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation visit each of the winning students’ schools to present a scholarship check during a special assembly. Other winners were Gabby Bodo (Harding Middle School, Steubenville); Stella Geis-Moffitt (Columbus Gifted Academy, Columbus); and Marissa Murphy (Madison Christian School, Groveport).

The Ag is Cool program has been recognized by the International Association of Fairs and Expositions as the best special or specific agricultural education exhibit, event or program for fairs with annual attendance between 500,001 and 1 million.

While the Ag is Cool admission and scholarship program is provided to exiting fourth-grade students, all fair visitors are encouraged to participate.

Shoults said the program experienced record participation in 2017, and included several interactive education stations throughout the fair where students could learn about:

• The ways Ohio’s largest industry, agriculture, impacts many facets of their lives

• Animal care and witnessing the birth of farm animals, along with the interaction between new babies and their mothers

• Soy and corn production and the various uses in food, fuel and other modern items

• How Ohio’s poultry industry is a national leader in egg production

• Modern dairy farming and how dairy farmers take care of their cows and how to milk a real cow

• The beef industry and nutrition, environmental stewardship and recycling

• The ways that barns protect Ohio animals

• Items and amounts that make up various animals’ diets

• Ohio’s agricultural history and information about farms that have been in families for more than a century

• How modern-day tractors help Ohio farmers maintain crops.

The 2018 Ohio State Fair will run July 25 through Aug. 5 at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus.

For more information, call or 614-644-3247 or visit ohiostatefair.com.