Farm Horizons, June 2014

Taking agriculture to the city

By Kristen Miller

Recently, Dassel-Cokato FFA members spent the day teaching metro area students about agriculture and where their food comes from through the program, Agriculture in the Classroom.

The purpose of this program through, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), is to promote understanding and awareness of the importance of agriculture.

According to the MDA website, educational programs provide a wealth of opportunities for embedding agriculture, food, and natural resources education into the k-12 classroom.

The program “seeks to improve student achievement by applying authentic agricultural examples to teach core curriculum concepts in science, social studies, language arts, math, and nutrition. These programs cultivate an understanding and appreciation of the food and fiber system that we all rely on every day,” the MDA site stated.

Forty-seven Dassel-Cokato FFA chapter members partnered with the Morris FFA chapter to bring agriculture to 475 third-graders at the Miracle of Birth Center at the state fair grounds May 14.

As part of the program, the FFA chapters organized activities to teach the third-graders from the Minneapolis-St. Paul school districts about livestock and where their food comes from, explained DC FFA advisor Eric Sawatzke.

The FFA chapter brought eight head of livestock including cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats to the event.

“Most of these kids have never seen these kind of animals before,” he said, adding that the young students were “fired up the whole time.”

DC FFA member Mercedes Lemke enjoyed the day, and said that it was more rewarding than in past years.

This is the third year DC FFA has participated in an Agriculture in the Classroom event, though on a smaller scale.

The goal next year is to expand the day to include 1,000 third-graders.

There were three sections to the program, livestock, commodities, and agriculture literacy.

For the first portion of the day, Lemke worked with a group of students teaching them about the life cycle of a soybean.

The second portion, Lemke served as a group leader taking eighth students through each of the three sections.

Agriculture in the Classroom is made possible through a Farm Credit grant, which paid for all of the students’ bussing.

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