Musings of a Pig Farmer
by Larry Sailer
Are you smarter than a fifth grader? I recently found out that I’m not as smart as a class of first graders in Ackley, Iowa. I didn’t know the answers to some of their questions, and I have been farming for close to 50 years!
Of course, farming has changed quite a bit since I was in first grade. It’s definitely become more scientific, and biotechnology now plays an important role. These first graders learned about embryology and topics that I didn’t even existed when I was a kid. Through week-long Ag in the Classroom activities, they also learned about dairy, pork, beef, sheep, corn and soybean production. They learn about water quality, food production and ethanol, as well.
It was fun seeing how eager these kids were to learn about agriculture. Plain and simple, these kids had fun learning. Hands-on activities help them understand how agricultural products are turned into the food we eat and the clothes we wear. Each student was given a baggie of wool and a Kool-Aid packet with directions on how to dye the wool and turn it into yarn. Can you imagine the conversations this will help initiate at home? I have had sheep on my farm and never knew how yarn was made!
North Central Iowa Ag in the Classroom is a 501(c) that provides a variety of educational services at no cost to area schools in these six counties: Cerro Gordo, Franklin, Hancock, Kossuth, Winnebago and Worth Counties. Brenda Adams, Linda Anderegg and Leah Reinert do a fantastic job of working with schools and delivering programs that fit a school’s benchmarks and standards.
Services offered by North Central AITC include:
- Ag Education Week – one full week providing educational opportunities for several grade levels. Each day will be dedicated to a new and exciting farm-related activity and lesson appropriate for each age.
- Teacher Resources – materials and resources for teachers wishing to present agriculture lessons on their own. In most cases the resources are provided free of charge.
- Farm Tours – organized farm tours for teachers upon request.
- PizzaThon – a curriculum developed by Iowa State University and Iowa State University Extension. Students in middle school Talented and Gifted classes work on a variety of projects throughout the winter months and come together in the spring to compete with teams from other schools.
It’s great that these kids, who mostly live in town and have very little first-hand knowledge of farming, can learn to enjoy what I live every day. This type of program exists across America with the help and support of many business sponsors such as Latham Hi-Tech Seeds and Farm Bureau. If you’d like to get involved, contact your county Farm Bureau office for more information.