An annual Mississippi State University exposition for elementary-age students is receiving a major United States Department of Agriculture accolade.
At ceremonies Monday [June 4] in Washington, D.C., Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman will present the 2001 Honor Award to the Wood Magic Science Fair program.
Designed especially for third- and fourth-graders, Wood Magic is a hands-on learning experience begun in 1994 by members of the College of Forest Resources' forest products department.
The Honor Award is the highest tribute given USDA employees and the general public for notable contributions to the nation, public service or the department's mission.
During the ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Wood Magic will be recognized for "maintaining and enhancing the nation's natural resources and environment." Professors R. Dan Seale and H. Michael Barnes, associate professor Terry Conners and senior research assistants Amy W. Garrard and Jason Leng also will be recognized.
The five created and expanded what now is a major campus event hosting 60 classes per day for five days.
Cynthia West, forest products department head, said more than 60,000 students, teachers and parents have attended Wood Magic since 1994.
"Wood Magic teaches the importance and use of wood as a renewable raw material in our lives," West said.
"With support from the forestry and forest products industry," she added, "the fair also seeks to change some common misconceptions about the depletion of trees and the status of forest products industries as environmental conservators."
To meet an ever-expanding demand for the fair's innovative presentations, forest industry representatives in 1997 purchased and outfitted a mobile classroom. Since hitting the road that year, the classroom has reached more than 15,000 participants in more than 40 Mississippi towns.
"Wood Magic on the Road" also has visited locations in Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
West said actions by Virginia Tech University and the universities of South Carolina and Oregon to adopt similar programs are another tribute to Wood Magic's success in reaching important audiences.
Similar mobile units also are operating in South Carolina and Kentucky, she added.