CLARKFIELD - Organizers for Ag in the Classroom brought knowledgeable farmers and curious school children together for a common purpose Tuesday in Clarkfield - to educate.
Yellow Medicine County corn and soybean growers hosted the annual event at the former Clarkfield School for 185 elementary children. Along with Farm Bureau, area farmers gave nine different presentations throughout the day.
"We want to educate the kids so they where their food comes from and about the role of the farmer," said Roger Dale, co-chair of the event. "Agriculture is a huge business, and Minnesota is a very important state. These presenters, they take it to heart."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Area farmer Mitch Brusven, left, was on hand to answer more questions from Canby Elementary students after giving a 25-minute presentation on corn at the annual Ag in the Classroom event Tuesday in Clarkfield. Nearly 200 children from six separate schools attended the event, which was sponsored by Yellow Medicine County corn and soybean growers and featured nine different educational stations.
Upon arrival, students were given bright yellow T-shirts that read: "From our farm to you. Making your life better every day, every way!" in addition to biodegradable plastic bags, milk and chocolate covered soybean cookies. Students then spent 25 minutes at each station, learning about farm safety, corn, pork/swine, soybeans, turkey, beef, dairy, conservation and careers. Afterwards, students were encouraged to take informational pamphlets and product samples.
"We've been doing this program for many years now," said Cottonwood farmer Steve Brusven, who presented on soybeans. "We want to inform kids that food starts in the soil. It doesn't come from the grocery store. We also want to educate them about possibly incorporating ag career opportunities in their life. Our future researchers - like biologists, entomologists or agronomists - are here (Tuesday)."
Yellow Medicine East student Meeghen Dahlager said she knew a little bit more about ag things because her dad was a farmer.
"I know you need a lot of fertilizer to make soybeans grow," Dahlager said.
Another student from YME, Mackenzie Dyrdahl, learned that soybeans were in a lot of common products.
"I learned that cakes, soy milk and 'Be My Valentine' cupcakes are all made from soybeans," Dyrdahl said.
Carolyn and Jonathan Olson of Cottonwood presented about pork.
"It's cool when you see the little light bulb go on," Carolyn Olson said. "It's worth it to present. The kids are asking great questions. They're very receptive to our message. It's always good when you can share your story."
Holy Redeemer School student Andrew Doyle said he was excited to hear more about pork.
"I love bacon," Doyle said. "I had a bacon-wrapped steak last night and it was really good."
Jonathan Olson said his favorite part of the presentation was informing kids that glycerin, a byproduct of a pig, was in many lipsticks, eye shadows and toothpastes.
"They usually say, 'really?'" Olson said. "Then they tell me they can't wait to tell their moms."
FFA members from YME also donated their time at the event.
"It's a great program," said Al Stoeckman, YME superintendent. "We appreciate all the community involvement. Our FFA students were involved this year, too. They've helped quite a bit in sharing their interests in ag with students. It's an opportunity to learn leadership skills."
Canby FFA member Megan Regnier, a junior, represented the Midwest Cattle Association as she spoke about beef cattle.
"It's been going pretty good," Regnier said. "The kids are actually into what I'm doing."
When asked if she raised dairy or beef cattle, Regnier had a quick response.
"Dairy cattle would look too skinny on my farm," she said.
Clarkfield farmer Mitch Brusven asked students to name different kinds of corn.
"(Presenting) is very rewarding," he said. "Corn is the most important crop in America and the second-most important in the world."
Kids learned that corn can be grown on every other continent except for Antarctica.
"My favorite part was knowing that corn could grow 10-feet tall," said Bryce Hansen, a student from Canby.
Like most stations, there was a huge display highlighting products made from corn.
"I think it's pretty cool that a whole bunch of stuff is made out of corn," said Canby student Carter Wente.
Over the years, the event has grown to include students from Lac qui Parle and Lyon Counties in addition to YMC. Other schools present this year were Dawson-Boyd, Clarkfield Area Charter School and St. Peter in Canby.