For a quarter of a century, Agri-Fest has introduced Central Florida’s 4th graders to the main sectors of Polk County’s leading agriculture—citrus, beef cattle, phosphate, small farms, blueberries, aquaculture, horticulture, forestry, and water conservation. This year’s event, held April 6-10 and April 13-17 in Bartow, will still show approximately 6,000 4th graders the ropes when it comes to Ag in Polk County as usual, but the water sector is getting a makeover.

Instead of being featured in its own section, water conservation will be incorporated in some way into every other sector, according to Polk County Farm Bureau Director Carole McKenzie. The new way of displaying water at Agri-Fest aptly represents how water is of great important to each and every other agriculture sector. For instance, the blueberry section will present a scale model of an irrigation system, built by Maxi-Jet, so the 4th graders see with their own eyes how an irrigation system on a blueberry farm works to conserve water.

UF/IFAS Natural Resources and Conservation Extension Agent Shannon Carnevale pointed out that every Polk County Ag sector works to either conserve water or improve water quality in some way, so it’s only natural for each section to highlight water’s important role. Most of the sectors will offer a poster to illustrate water’s role in each section, but each year will see improvements and additions.

In Florida, water is an important topic in just about every endeavor, and agriculture is no exception. This year’s Agri-Fest will ensure that area 4th graders will get hands-on lessons about all of Polk County’s agriculture sectors and how water plays a central role to life in Florida as we know it.