Sunridge Middle School eighth graders got to enjoy some agricultural learning in the sunshine on Wednesday, October 18, 2023. Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC) brought its Mobile Precision Agriculture Laboratory to the school for some hands-on learning.
First, the class of science students broke up into small groups, made a grid sketch of an open field, and then took the temperature of the soil in each quadrant. After they reported their findings, Drew Leggett, BMCC Precision Agriculture Instructor, discussed with the students how soil temperature can be used by farmers for growing crops.
Thor, SMS eighth grader, said, “It was interesting how the temperature changed throughout the field; you would think the sun would heat it up the same.”
Leggett then went to the mobile trailer and brought out the hit of the show — a large, brightly colored orange drone. He explained this specific drone costs about $50,000 and can fly over 250 acres on one charge of its battery. Leggett explained farmers and ranchers can use drones to fly over their property and gather detailed information about sunlight exposure, water, crop growth, and more.
Eighth grader Hayden said the drone was pretty awesome to see and looked really cool flying through the sky.
What does Leggett want these eighth graders to take away from today’s experience? “I want students to know what precision agriculture is and how it works. I also tell them that it’s a career opportunity throughout the nation, there is a huge shortage of precision ag technicians, and you need only a two-year degree to get into the field.”
This BMCC mobile lab was new in 2022. Annie Claus, Career Connected Learning Systems Navigator at BMCC, said one of the uses of the mobile lab is to connect Career Technical Education (CTE) and Career Connected Learning (CCL) opportunities to students in fifth and eighth grades and high school.
Eighth grader Hayden summed up the morning pretty well, “There’s a lot of stuff to do in science.”