NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodClewiston

Actions

ALL ABOARD: Clewiston 4th graders set-off on agriculture education journey aboard Sugar Express

U.S. Sugar's historic steam engine provides a first-hand lesson in agriculture and local history
Posted at 8:18 PM, Apr 26, 2024

CLEWISTON, Fla. — It’s all aboard for agriculture education as Clewiston fourth graders set-off on a sweet day of learning on the Sugar Express.

As Fox 4’s Hendry County Community Correspondent, Austin Schargorodski works in the area every day, so U.S Sugar invited him to come on board their historic steam engine train as they teach students about the importance of farming.

U.S. Sugar's historic, restored steam engine train - the Sugar Express.
U.S. Sugar's historic, restored steam engine train - the Sugar Express.

Students from Westside, Agape Christian, and Glades Day School Elementary schools piled into the Sugar Express, eager to get a first hand look at local farms. As the steam engine began its route, the students’ chattering excitement was punctuated by the sound of the train's whistle blowing.

Three students taking in the bucolic views from the open-air car of the Sugar Express.
Three students taking in the bucolic views from the open-air car of the Sugar Express.

The open-air car was packed as they took in the bucolic views. Two friends from Westside Elementary say getting to see things up close helps them learn.

“We get to see different places, and get to see what’s in the places we visit,” said Jacob Bonilla.

It’s an experience other students emphasized means a lot at their age.

“I like to learn stuff outside because there’s so much I haven’t seen in my life," one student said.

Another student added, “You haven’t done a lot of stuff when you’re young.”

Westside Elementary 4th graders Alyson Aldana and Jacob Bonilla.
Westside Elementary 4th graders Alyson Aldana and Jacob Bonilla.

U.S. Sugar’s Director of Corporate Communications, Ryan Duffy, says it’s impactful to show students the inner workings of a region that produces enough food for 180 million Americans.

“Today is all about showing children farms - showing them the process that goes into growing the food that everybody eats,” Duffy explained.

Duffy said the students get to see farmers harvesting sugar, green beans, and sweetcorn. He added that U.S. Sugar’s goal is to give every fourth grader in the district the Sugar Express experience to tie into their Florida history education.

U.S. Sugar's Director of Corporate Communications, Ryan Duffy.
U.S. Sugar's Director of Corporate Communications, Ryan Duffy.

“What better way to learn about history than to be on a restored steam engine that was a part of Florida history - a part of our company’s history - and so we’re happy to have them out today,” said Duffy.

The educational journey concluded with students lining up to receive wooden train whistles as souvenirs. The cheerful sounds of the entire group of students blowing their whistles in front of the train capped off a memorable day.

Large group of Clewiston 4th graders gather in front of the Sugar Express for a photo.
Large group of Clewiston 4th graders gather in front of the Sugar Express for a photo.