Fourth grade farm tour one of the best ever

Farrm tour Northey watchingGreene County Farm Bureau board members Tim and Vickie Robbins of rural Scranton have hosted a farm tour for all fourth grade students in the county for more than 20 years.

This year’s farm tour was held the morning of Thursday, April 23, with 95 energetic and eager fourth graders arriving at the Robbins farm for a morning of learning and ag-related activities. The goal of the tour is for students to learn about the care and raising of farm animals, farm safety, and everyday products that come from animals and crops.

Farm tour Northey ParkerA special guest at the farm tour was Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey  and his assistant Nathan Katzer. County president Perry Parker welcomed both Northey and Katzer. Northey (left) and Parker shared many comments during the morning.

Secretary Northey spent time at all nine learning stations observing, taking pictures, and even asking questions. “Farm tours such as this one are very important for kids whether they have an agricultural background or not. These students will always remember the day in fourth grade that they went to the farm and learned about GPS, made a ‘cover crop monster,’ or got to see a calf being born,” Northey said.

Farm tour Northey, studentsDuring a break between learning stations, Northey talked to all in attendance. He was impressed by what Greene County Farm Bureau does for ag literacy and hopes that more young people will have the opportunity to visit a farm. He told the students Iowa is agriculture “rich” and that the corn and soybeans that farmers are getting ready to plant now will be shipped all over the world when harvested, and the cows and hogs farmers raise will help feed the world. “This is a real exciting time in agriculture,” he said. “We say Iowa is the center of agriculture in the world. People come from all over the world to learn what Iowans have already figured out.”

Many of the stations were set up, and the presentations were done by Horn O’Plenty FFA members. FFA instructor Cortney Schmidt was also on hand and helped throughout the morning.

Farm tour Justin RobbinsAt the cow/calf station, Justin Robbins talked about the responsibilities of having a cow/calf herd. He showed the students several items that they use during calving if needed and how they identify newborn calves by placing an ear tag in their ear. Students were full of questions at this station and also able to see several spring calves.

Presenters at the horticulture station were Austin Wailes, Caiti Schaben, Gwen Black, Kasey Lane, Brian Rasmussen, and Auggie Halverson. Students learned about planting seeds and had the opportunity to plant a marigold seed in a styrofoam cup full of soil which they were able to take home.

Farm tour tractorPresenting at the farm safety station were FFA members Wade Wuebker, Tressa Rasmussen, and Mason Burkett. PTO dangers, ATV, and tractor/farm equipment safety were discussed with the students. A line quickly formed when students were told they could climb in the tractor and sit in the seat but not to touch anything. At another station, FFA members Alec Schneider, Noah Juergensen, Mac Adamson, and Cody Burkett reviewed the dangers of flowing grain and grain bin safety.

Farm tour Will FettA first year presenter was Will Fett, executive director for the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. At Fett’s learning station, he talked about soil erosion – water and soil conservation. He did a simple experiment on soil erosion that demonstrated in an easy-to-understand visual the relationship between precipitation, soil erosion, protection of water courses, and vegetation. It also illustrated the difference between bare soil, no-till, and cover crops. At this station, the kids also made “cover crop monsters” to take home. This activity connected what the students learned about cover crops to growing things.

Vickie Robbins manned the value-added ag station, explaining to the students that many of the products they use every day are made from crops harvested by farmers, including corn, soybeans, alfalfa, hay, and cotton. Students left this station with the knowledge that in some way a farmer touches their life each and every day by what they eat, wear, and play with.

At another learning station, Tim Robbins explained the progression of planting and harvesting corn though the years while the students shelled ears of corn by hand. Students were asked how many rows of corn and how many kernels are on an average ear of corn.

Second year presenters were Carrie Kelley and Amy Tlach from the Iowa Soybean Association. Students learned about planting, growing, and harvesting soybeans. Kelley and Tlach had a bag of soy nuts and the students were asked if they knew what was in the bag. A few did. Far fewer had ever eaten soy nuts. This lead to the students learning about the nutritional value soybeans have and the many food products that are made from soybeans. Students also learned about soy meal and soy oil. The hands-on activity at this station was making soybean necklaces.

Farm Tour ReynoldsNew this year was a GPS learning station. Hosted by Sara Jo Reynolds, Greene County Extension youth and 4-H coordinator, students learned that GPS stands for Global Positioning System and uses satellites in space to transmit radio signals back to earth. Reynolds had several hand held GPS units and in pairs the students followed coordinates to simulate how farmers use this technology when doing fieldwork, whether it is spraying, planting, harvesting, or tillage work.

Students spent the morning rotating through the nine ‘’hands-on” learning stations where the students spent approximately 15 minutes at each station.

Farm tour HoldenAfter a lunch of hamburgers grilled by Mike Holden (pictured) of the Greene County Cattlemen and Farm Bureau board member Dan Frederick, chips, cookie, and bottled water, the fourth graders were bussed back to their respective schools.

Greene County Farm Bureau thanked Farm Credit Services of America, Carroll office, for sponsoring lunch and providing Ag Day activity books to all students. Jill McMinemee, Chris Schultes, and Daniel Stejskal from Farm Credit were present and also helped grill and serve lunch with Farm Bureau board members.

Farm Bureau also thanked the Greene County Cattlemen for the use of their grill, Tim and Vickie Robbins for hosting this event every year, and all those who assisted in any way making the day a huge success.“Without volunteers this farm tour wouldn’t be possible,” said Parker.

Each student received an ag bag which contained a variety of ag information and gifts from various commodity groups. Each student also received a 2015 Greene County Farm Bureau ag tour t-shirt compliments of Greene County Farm Bureau.

“All involved in this year’s farm tour agree that this year’s tour was one of the best. The weather was absolutely beautiful, Secretary Northey in attendance, the addition of two new learning stations, a majority of board members present, and as always, the kids,” a Farm Bureau press release stated.

Farm tour FFA group

Secretary Northey posed with FFA members. Pictured are (front, from left) Caiti Schaben, Gwen Black, Brian Rasmussen, Tressa Rasmussen, Northey and Kasey Lane; and (back, from left) Cody Burkett, Austin Wailes, Alec Schneider, Mason Burkett, Noah Juergensen, Mac Adamson, Wade Wuebker, Auggie Halverson and teacher/advisor Cortney Schmidt.

Farm tour FB board

Northey also posed with Farm Bureau board members. Pictured are (from left) Mark Naberhaus, John McCormick, Tim Robbins, Perry Parker, Northey, Tom Safley, Brenda Anderson, Barry Anderson, Brian Galloway, Bill Sutton, Dan Frederick, Pete Bardole and Jim Giese.

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