Kids get glimpse of food, agriculture worldMay 16, 2018
By KATHLEEN MESSMER
Herald News Intern
BRETZVILLE — “It was so weird!” giggled Huntingburg Elementary fourth-grader Abby Echeverria after experiencing a cow milking simulator Tuesday at the Dubois County Purdue Extension’s Food and Ag Day.
With 2018 marking the 30th year of the educational day, it’s safe to say the event is popular amongst its elementary student spectators.
The Purdue Extension hosts the annual event to give elementary school students across the county a glance into the world of food and agriculture. With Dubois County being one of the state’s leading agriculture counties, the extension hopes to inform students and provide them with the knowledge about the industry.
Lauren Fenneman, who has been the extension’s program assistant for two years, hopes the kids leave the fairgrounds with a better understanding of where their food comes from and how agriculture impacts their lives each and every day.
Ken Eck, the county extension’s agriculture and natural resources educator, agreed.
“It is our job to expose them to these things and say, ‘Here’s where your food comes from,’” Eck said. “When they see a turkey truck or combine coming down the road, the kids can relate it back to what they saw today.”
The day ran smoothly with groups of kids rotating through 11 different stations, each with a presenter who spoke about different topics. Eager and engaged, the students sat patiently while learning about animals (beef, dairy, goats, pigs, sheep, and turkeys), farm equipment, corn, technology in agriculture, climate, and soil and water.
“I myself am learning how the animals are taken care of and how some of the food is processed,” said Kristy Fuesler, an assistant at Huntingburg Elementary.
The Dubois County Food and Agriculture Day also encourages students to join 4-H. While some of the kids have never been involved in 4-H activities, others have been showing and competing in 4-H for years.
A fourth-grader at Huntingburg Elementary, Alex Hohler, daughter of Karla and Ed Hohler of Huntingburg, said she has been in 4-H ever since she could join. She’s shown everything from rabbits, to sheep, to goats.
Holland Elementary fourth-grader Jaylynn Goodwin, daughter of Mark and Lynn Goodwin, is also an avid member of 4-H, showing sheep, rabbits, beef, and countless projects.
“I’ve done so many (projects) I can’t name them all,” Jaylynn said. “This year I am doing 13.
On the other end of the spectrum, was Abby, who has no experience in the world of 4-H. After grabbing a sample of butter and milk from the Lindauer family dairy farm, the daughter of Lieiah and Luis Echeverria of Huntingburg, cheerfully held up her treats and exclaimed, “This is so cute!” She and her friends also agreed that the Lindauer farm’s dairy cow was their favorite exhibit of the day.
Katie Gogel, a third grade teacher at Northeast Dubois, has accompanied students on this field trip for three years.
“I look forward to watching the kids getting the chance to see animals that are not in their daily environment,” she said. “It’s neat to watch them experience that.
Eck agreed that most of the kids don’t have the chance to see the animals and farm equipment outside of this field trip and the county fair.
“This is a chance to go out in a controlled environment and maybe pet a calf or see a chicken or turkey they wouldn’t get to see otherwise,” he said.
The students also enjoyed the drones provided by Hopf Equipment. Learning about how drones are used to help farmers with their crops, the students were amazed by the modern technology.
Fenneman expressed the importance of teaching kids that there is more to agriculture than animals and crops.
“The kids are always amazed at how much the farm equipment costs,” she said.
Though the food and ag day is educational, the Purdue Extension also works to make sure the kids have fun while learning.
“We hope they learned the different aspects of the agriculture industry, how to be a better consumer, and had fun while doing so,” Fenneman said.
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