NOTE: Sokolowski's essay is at the bottom of this page
For more than 44 years Georgia Farm Bureau’s Middle School Essay Contest has encouraged sixth through eighth grade students to consider the importance of agriculture. This year, students competing in the annual contest were asked to describe the relationship between farmers and natural resources.
“Georgia Farm Bureau’s Middle School Essay Contest is where research and creativity meet to allow students a chance to challenge their writing skills. We provide a topic, the students do the research, and then they help us tell the story of agriculture,” said GFB Women’s Leadership Committee Chairman Heather Cabe. “This group of students clearly researched ag-accurate information resulting in essays of which I’m confident farmers across Georgia will be proud.”
The 66 county Farm Bureaus that held local contests submitted their top winners to GFB from which 10 district winners and a state winner were chosen.
Dougherty County student Kaitlyn Sokolowski won the state prize of $150 and an additional $100 for being the GFB 9th District winner. Sokolowski was a seventh grader at St. Teresa’s Catholic School in Albany when she wrote her winning essay.
Other district essay winners were Sara Grace Abernathy, Floyd County, GFB 1st Dist.; Ansley Segars, Habersham County, GFB 2nd Dist.; Annabella Tai, Fayette County, GFB 3rd Dist.; Hannah Lang, Walton County, GFB 4th Dist.; Jake Pope, Jasper County, GFB 5th Dist.; Addy Collins, Treutlen County, GFB 6th Dist.; Ben Bennett, Emanuel County, GFB 7th Dist.; Cutter Tharpe, Dooly County, GFB 8th Dist.; Patrick De Member, Pierce County, GFB 10th Dist. Each of these students won a $100 prize.
In writing their essays, students were encouraged to research and discuss how farmers utilize, protect and conserve natural resources such as soil, air and water while raising livestock and growing crops on their farms.
Essays were judged on clarity of thought and writing skill. Sokolowski’s essay is featured on the next page. Visit www.gfb.ag/20essays to read the essays of the other district winners.
Georgia Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom Coordinator Lauren Goble may be reached at email@example.com or 478-474-0679, ext. 5135. Contact your county Farm Bureau if you’d like to volunteer with their Ag in the Classroom program.
The Relationship Between Farmers & Natural Resources
By Kaitlyn Sokolowski
Many things we use come from natural resources. Farmers work with the land as well as use natural resources. Farmers also work to conserve natural resources by using different farming practices. Farmers use three specific types of practices - conservation, preservation and moderation - to help protect our precious natural resources.
Conservation is used by farmers to reduce the amount of resources [used] to create less of an effect on the land. Some conservation practices include crop rotation, planting cover crops, no-till, and collecting water run-off.
Crop rotation helps keep the soil rich in nutrients. This is because some crops take nutrients from the soil and some put nutrients back in by planting different crops on the same field at different times of the year. Cover crops are used to help slow the erosion of the soil making it possible to grow more crops and keep the soil rich. Some farmers choose to use no-till fields in order to keep the soil moist. No-till keeps soil clumped to help keep the soil in place when it rains.
Collecting runoff water from both fields and buildings is an important way farmers help to stop pollutants from reaching water sources. To help with water cleanliness, farmers are now putting up fences around streams, rivers and ponds on their property to keep livestock out of water.
Farmers use preservation to keep the land thriving. Through the Conservation Reserve Program, farmers take land out of agricultural production. This leaves it to grow naturally. While this land is being left unattended, great things are happening to preserve soil and wildlife. Through this type of preservation, the soil gets a chance to replenish nutrients and rebuild topsoil from erosion. This also allows birds and animals to repopulate and increase diversity. Some people say that is a waste of land and money that could be used for other things. However, what we don’t see is that animals are thriving and the soil is replenishing itself making it more useful.
Moderation is another technique farmers use. This involves using less resources and developing new ideas to manage farm resources. Farmers know using too many fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides harms the environment and crops as well as it takes nutrients from the soil.
Farmers use different programs to decrease the use of chemicals. Some programs that help reduce the use of chemicals involve using crop rotation as well as using genetically engineered seeds.
They also introduce predator species to eat pests. Farmers have to understand the life cycle of pests in order to use most of these techniques so they can keep their chemical use as low as possible. When farmers use the chemicals in moderation then that keeps the environment, crops and soil healthier as well as protects streams and rivers clean from runoff.
While we know farmers work hard producing crops and raising livestock to feed us, they are using multiple natural resources through this process. Farmers don’t just take away from those natural resources, they help maintain and improve the natural resources during the process of farming.
The relationship farmers have with the natural resources benefits the land, the people, the animals, and all living things on this planet.
Dougherty County student Kaitlyn Sokolowski won the state prize of $150 and an additional $100 for being the GFB 9th District winner. Sokolowski was a seventh grader at St. Teresa’s Catholic School in Albany when she wrote her winning essay earlier this year. Essay has been lightly edited.