Robbins wrap up two decades of fourth grade farm tours

Tim and Vickie Robbins hosted the Greene County Farm Bureau’s annual farm tour for all county fourth grade students at their rural Scranton farm Thursday, April 20. Approximately 110 Greene County and Paton-Churdan students spent the morning at nine hands-on learning stations set up by volunteers, Horn O’Plenty FFA members, and Farm Bureau board members.

Vicki Robbins talks about grandson Grant and past fourth grade farm tours | Scranton Journal photo

The Robbins have hosted the tour for more than 20 years, but according to Vickie, the 2017 tour will be their last. She and Tim decided years ago to host the tours until their younger grandson Grant’s class visited. Grant’s classmates were at the farm this year, but without Grant.

Grant was killed in an ATV accident two years ago. During a break between learning stations, the students were gathered back together for a balloon release to remember Grant. The red balloons were courtesy of Fudge’s Flowers and Gifts owner Bonnie Silbaugh, although the Robbins didn’t know where they came from until later that day.

Although the day could have been bittersweet, Vickie Robbins said she was determined to have a happy day to honor Grant’s memory. “The kids need to see that you move on from tragedies but never forget the person,” she said.

The Farm Bureau board intends to continue the annual tour, but at a new location for 2018.

A new station this year featured two 3-month old lambs. Farm Bureau board member Jason Reedy talked with students about the care and feeding of lambs and sheep. Many students enjoyed a chance to pet the lambs.

A favorite station was one at which Patrick Olmstead of NEW Coop in Fort Dodge talked with students about the use of drones in agriculture. Then, despite a healthy breeze that lasted all morning, Olmstead flew a pair of drones.

Patrick Olmstead talks about drones.

Other stations included GPS hosted by Kayla Hyett, Greene County Extension youth and 4-H coordinator; cow/calf with Justin Robbins and FFA member Bryce Hoyle; corn and value-added uses with Farm Bureau board members Randy Christensen and Perry Parker; horticulture with FFA members Katelynn McDowell and Brian Rasmussen; farm/grain bin safety with FFA members Will Funcke, Brandon Carstens, Tom Gannon, Matt Saddoris, CJ Muir and Ben Bravard; water quality/soil erosion and conservation with Chrissy Dittmer, education program coordinator at the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation and FFA member Abbie Sparks; and farming, “Now and Then” with Tim Robbins.

Grant Robbins’ photo was on the front of the large tractor where Grandpa Tim Robbins spoke.

After rotating through all the learning stations and taking a nature walk, the student had burgers grilled by Greene county Cattlemen Mike Holden and Pat Fields and Mark Miller from Farm Credit, Carroll office.

Greene County Farm Bureau thanked Farm Credit Services of America, Carroll office, for sponsoring lunch and providing Ag Day activity books to all students. Kendall Cleveland, Austin Steinkamp, and Mark Miller from Farm Credit were present and helped grill and serve lunch.

Another thank you went to the Greene County Cattleman for the use of their grill, Tim and Vickie Robbins for hosting this event, and all those who assisted in any way making the morning a success.

The Robbins’ goal is that students take with them the knowledge that in some way a farmer touches their life each day by what they eat, wear, and play with. They hope that students will always remember the day in fourth grade that they went to a farm and learned about GPS, made a “cover crop monster”, or got to see a calf being born.

“Without volunteers, our local FFA club, and hard work and commitment from board members and office staff, this farm tour wouldn’t be possible,” said Farm Bureau county president John McCormick.

Each student received an ag bag which contained a variety of ag information and gifts from various commodity and livestock producer associations. Each student also received a 2017 Greene County Farm Bureau ag tour t-shirt compliments of Greene County Farm Bureau.

The entire group, with Justin, McKinley, Vicki and Tim Robbins front and center. | Greene County Farm Bureau photo
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