Skilled to Work: Limestone County 5th graders learn what it's like being a cotton farmer

Students in Limestone County and Athens City schools went on a field trip to the Associated Growers Co-Op Inc.

Posted: Nov 4, 2021 5:28 PM
Updated: Nov 5, 2021 7:55 PM

A group of fifth graders in Limestone County learned about cotton, its uses and a possible future in agriculture during a unique field trip. 

North Alabama's a very tech-driven area, but the Alabama 4-H in Limestone County wanted to show Alabama's roots to students. The organization planned and organized a field trip for students so they could have an opportunity to immerse themselves into what put Alabama on the map: agriculture, and more specifically, cotton.

Students tour cotton gin in Limestone County

Driving through North Alabama, you'll see cotton fields all over. Fifth graders in Limestone County and Athens City schools spent the week learning what "Alabama's snow" is used for. 

“I just think it’s cool what cotton goes to, because you just think it’s soft and just goes to clothes, but it goes to a lot more," said Mazie Kate Smith, a fifth grader at Cedar Hill Elementary School.

“It can make paper — like stuff to paint on, it can make that, too," said Anthony Leon, a fifth grader from Tanner Elementary School.

From clothes and dollar bills to salad dressings and makeup, cotton is something we use on a daily basis. 

However, many people don't realize the whole process that goes into its production.

“Some of them walked by the cotton picker and they’re like, ‘That’s a big lawnmower,’” said Lauren Graham.

Graham's advanced agriculture students walked the fifth graders through the process of what happens at the cotton gin from the time it arrives until it gets shipped out to be made into something.

“They may be able to see something that they never even knew existed and this spark an interest for them and them, you know, go down that road and be like, ‘Oh, hey, I want to try this,’ or, ‘This might be something I want to do,'" said Graham.

Students were able to get their hands dirty and pick cotton seeds before being shown how technology has advanced. 

The cotton gin at the Associated Growers Co-Op Inc. in Athens is one of the most advanced cotton gins in the country. It can separate 5,500 pounds of cotton every 10 minutes. 

Students said they now have a better appreciation for agriculture.

"It’s a lot of cotton and the machines, I still wonder how they built that," said Anthony.

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