Updated: January 25, 2024
Close Encounters Close Encounters with Agriculture

Close Encounters with Agriculture

Close Encounters with Agriculture is an award-winning program offered each year to Montgomery County fourth-grade students. Since 1993, over 100,000 students have participated in this hands-on educational program designed to teach students about modern agriculture, maintaining a healthy environment, and leading a healthy lifestyle.

Close Encounters with Agriculture Facts

Theme: Close Encounters with Agriculture – applicable to Social Studies, Science, Math, and Health curriculums
Audience: 4th Grade Students - 225 to 300 students per day
Dates for 2024:  Coming Soon!
Time: 10: 00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Location: Agricultural History Farm Park (M-NCPPC), 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD 20855

  • To promote and increase the visibility of agricultural science and related fields
  • To demonstrate the interrelationship between agriculture, the environment, and nutrition
  • To increase the understanding of agriculture among youth and their families
  • To involve volunteers in promoting agriculture and related fields

Educational Tracks:  

1. Production Agriculture
Children will better understand agriculture production by matching raw products (animal, grain and specialty) with finished products using a relay race and discussion. They will see close up and interact with horses, and goats. Students will also try their hand at butter making and milk a simulated cow. Each student will take home a goody bag of donated agricultural and promotional items, plus a pansy for planting.

2. The Environment
Children will better understand how agricultural soil conservation best management practices affect water quality and our environment. Hands-on activities will help children learn about water quality, stream insects, local soils, wildlife habitat, soil erosion and things students can do at home to help keep water clean and safe.

3. Nutrition, Diet and Health
Children will study grain products and their relationship to nutrition, diet and health. Students will learn about parts of vegetables we eat through hands-on activities. Demonstrations, displays and games will enhance their understanding of the importance of good nutrition. All activities are based on the latest federal guidelines. A clicker quiz game will cap off the activities

Schedule (subject to change):

Time Activity
9:50 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Arrival/Registration
10:20 a.m. to 11:05 a.m. Hands-on Activities
11:05 a.m. to 11:10 a.m. Rotate - Next Track
11:10 a.m. to 11:55 a.m. Hands-on Activities
11:55 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. LUNCH - Rotate - Next Track
12:25 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. Hands-on Activities
1:10 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. Wrap-up/Departure

 Participating Schools Will:

  1. Provide in-class activities for 4th-grade students, using materials provided through the program’s website. https://extension.umd.edu/locations/montgomery-county/agriculture-and-food-systems
  2. Recruit and coordinate adult chaperones who will accompany students on the field trip (suggested: 1 adult to 5-10 children).
  3. Arrange for bus transportation/cost, insurance coverage, disposable bag lunches, and permission slips for participating children.

Bring disposable lunches and drinks. Please group & label lunches in a disposable container by teacher!!

  1. Inform Extension staff of any special needs children before the program.
  2. Review orientation materials provided.
  3. Administer the online post-tests after the field trip.

University of Maryland Extension and Co-Sponsoring Groups Will:

  1. Make teachers aware of online resources for pre-trip in-class activities. A hard copy teacher's notebook will be provided upon request.
  2. Provide, together with volunteers, hands-on educational activities in agriculture production, the environment, nutrition, diet, and health at the Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood, MD.
  3. Furnish each child and teacher a take-home goody bag of promotional and educational agricultural materials.
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of the program in cooperation with participating schools.

Helpful Hints:

Children and adult chaperons should dress appropriately for the weather and, if conditions are wet, should wear waterproof shoes and outerwear. Most activities will be under cover but groups will be walking outdoors during part of the day. Children and adult chaperons should bring disposable labeled (teacher and student name) bagged lunch and drink - we are unable to provide refrigeration or cooking facilities. LABEL AND PACK ALL LUNCHES BY TEACHER IN disposable materials (cardboard boxes, plastic bags). Due to staff limitations, we no longer accept non-disposable lunch items. Trashcans will be available on the grounds.

Co-Sponsoring Groups:

Teacher's Notebook

  • beef cattle and plant

    Agriculture (pdf)

  • A person holding a handful of soil

    Environment (pdf)

  • Wheat

    Nutrition (pdf)

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