The LSU AgCenter will bring the “magic” of agriculture back to its Parker Coliseum in Baton Rouge this spring as it presents its annual “AgMagic” event April 21-27.
The successful interactive educational event on the university campus in Baton Rouge is in its fifth year and is designed to give children and adults a fun way to learn that food, clothing, lumber and other products all are part of the complex system involving agriculture and natural resources.
AgMagic will be open for scheduled tours by school groups from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., April 21-25. In addition, the public is invited to attend from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., April 26-27. Admission is free for all of the events.
“We're proud to present this excellent educational event that offers fun for children and adults,” said William B. “Bill” Richardson, chancellor of the LSU AgCenter. “Our faculty and staff are putting together a great lineup to help the public understand where their food comes from and what agriculture is all about.”
The annual event features live plants and animals, ranging from a simulated forest to a barnyard full of animals. In between are a butterfly exhibit, large tanks of fish and crawfish, worms hiding in the soil and much more.
“AgMagic takes visitors on a journey that shows them various aspects of Louisiana agriculture and the role it plays in the things they use every day,” said Paul Coreil, vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter. “It also tries to show how Louisiana agriculture plays a vital role in the state's economy.”
Officials say AgMagic is an experience that's interactive and visually stimulating. They also say it helps children and adults see the links between food and fiber products they use every day and the forests, field crops and livestock produced by Louisiana farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.
A new section in this year's AgMagic experience will focus on the Louisiana 4-H youth development program and its centennial year of serving the state's young people. 4-H is the youth development and outreach program of the nation's land-grant universities, and it is coordinated in Louisiana by the LSU AgCenter. It helps young people develop knowledge and skills that will benefit them, their families and their communities throughout their lives.
The 4-H exhibit at AgMagic will show the evolution of the Louisiana program from its origination as a Corn Club in 1908 to today's vibrant educational projects ranging from computer science to raising livestock.
“In addition to the 4-H timeline, we also will try to have someone milling corn part of the time to tie in to the original Corn Club,” said Terry Dumas of the LSU AgCenter, who is working as one of the coordinators of the annual event. “We also will have a display of the 4-H Pledge, so kids can learn what the four Hs mean and a little more on what 4-H is about.”
In addition to the new 4-H section, other popular features of AgMagic returning this year are:
“Bugs Rule” is a popular area of exhibits and activities that demonstrate the role insects play in agriculture and the environment. It includes a new butterfly exhibit and a chance for participants to see a variety of live bugs up close, as well as a chance for them to make their own “bug rubbings.”
“Animals Produce For You” will be an educational area that includes chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, dairy cattle and beef cattle. It will give participants a chance to see what animals eat and the products the livestock industry provides. Visitors also will see eggs hatching in an incubator.
“Plant Products” will include a look at cotton, rice, sugarcane and sweet potatoes. It also will provide a look at how vegetables are grown and will include a new coastal plants display. As part of the interactive exhibit, visitors can learn the origin of products they consume — that ketchup comes from tomatoes, clothes are made from cotton, candy comes from sugarcane and more.
“Farming the Waters” will feature live catfish, crawfish, alligators, turtles, ornamental fish and more. Viewing stations will allow visitors to see both habitats and products, and visitors will learn how you “farm” aquatic life.
The “World of Wonder” will focus on forests, forest products and wildlife. Its simulated forest will illustrate the abundance of natural resources found in our state. Smokey Bear will teach visitors how to protect the environment, and a variety of forest products will show what comes from the state's largest agricultural industry — forestry. This area also will include a chance for visitors to view the root system of a tree, to see types of wood under magnifying glasses and to make leaf prints and animal tracks.
In addition to those exhibits, the “Body Walk,” an interactive educational exhibit designed to combat childhood obesity, also will be available April 26-27. Sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation, it is part of an overall program known as “Smart Bodies.”
Tours for school groups and other groups April 21-25 must be scheduled in advance by visiting the AgMagic Web site (www.lsuagcenter.com/AgMagic ) or by phoning (225) 578-2196. Advance registration is not necessary for the public days April 26-27.
To obtain more information or to schedule a tour, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/AgMagic  or phone (225) 578-2196.