By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau: Phoenix Union High School students had a spooktacular good time last week on Adam Hatley’s cotton farm near Indian School and the 101 in Scottsdale learning about cotton production and all things agriculture.

On Halloween, more than 80 high school students showed up with their Science, Technology, Engineer and Math notepads (and some in Halloween costumes) to learn about what it takes to grow cotton in Arizona.

Adam Hatley, 3rd generation cotton farmer, hosted the students on their adventure. “This is the first year that I’ve done a tour with this particular High School,” says Hatley. “I was very impressed with the students and their very thoughtful questions. They’re studying the food chain.”

Also an alfalfa, field corn and sweet corn grower, Hatley said the students were intrigued by the cotton production. “It’s encouraging to see the kind of interest from this generation, especially form an inner-city high school.”

Ryan Hiesel, the High School teacher who coordinated the tours, is a cousin of Adam’s and was also pleasantly surprised at how interested the students were.

 Hatley thoroughly enjoyed answering the students questions and telling them about Arizona cotton farming.

So how did Hatley make the field trip so engaging?

  1. He shared his enthusiasm for learning.
  2. Students’ questions were answered with sincerity and thoughtfulness.
  3. Hatley spent time with each group (they came to the farm in different van loads).
  4. He let them discover the types of equipment agriculture uses to harvest cotton.
  5. Hatley showed his love of agriculture and cotton farming.
  6. Most of all, he identified with the students’ own curiosity about learning something new.

Hatley believes so much of what we must do as Arizona farmers and ranchers is all about engagement. He suggests we show our neighbors, our communities, what we do.

According to the USDA, right now in Arizona the cotton harvest is 30% complete. USDA also suggests this year's cotton crop be rated mostly fair to excellent, depending on location. 

If you’d ever be willing to host a on-the-farm field day, let Katie Aikins, associate director of Ag Education for Arizona Farm Bureau, know. Contact her via email at 

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