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Ag in the Classroom

By Staff | Nov 11, 2011

Christa Ryg, of the Hodson-Dirksen Dairy Farm, of Plymouth, explains Tuesday to third-graders of West Fork School in Rockwell, what occurs in a milking parlor. The dairy tour was part of Ag in the Classroom, a program sponsored by the Cerro Gordo County Farm Bureau.

By CLAYTON RYE

Farm News staff writer

PLYMOUTH – Christa Ryg’s work day begins at 4 a.m. for the twice-a-day milking duties at the Hodson-Dirksen Dairy Farm, near this northeast Cerro Gordo County community.

Growing up on a nearby dairy farm, Ryg is well acquainted with the tasks associated with dairying, which she shares with her father and brothers.

The dairy milks 122 head of cattle daily. On Tuesday, Ryg had an additional job when the third-grade class of West Fork School in Rockwell arrived for a tour as part of the Cerro Gordo County Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program.

Part of the tour at the Hodson-Dirksen Dairy Farm included each third-grader getting to sit in the tractor seat and pushing the horn button.

Angie Twedt, the teacher, said she believes the school has been part of the Ag in the Classroom for 10 years. Each year’s third grade tours the dairy farm.

Twedt said the Ag in the Classroom comes to the school for a week each year to give presentations to the preschool through fourth-grade.

The kindergarten tours an apple orchard and pumpkin farm, and the second grade attends Ag Day at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City.

Twedt estimates there are just six to seven children in each class who live on a working farm.

“We study the different sizes of communities and how they are alike and different,”?Twedt said, “why farmers are important to us and the world, how animals help us for food and by-products.”

Ag in the Classroom is a program run by the Iowa Farm Bureau.

The Mason City Farm Bureau office has Ag in the Classroom in 20 schools in the Cerro Gordo, Franklin, Hancock, Kossuth, Winnebago and Worth counties.

There were 6,813 students who participated in the program last year, according to Linda Anderegg, one of the three coordinators working out of the Mason City office.

It is a one-week program offered to kindergarten through sixth grades. In addition to field trips, there are classroom presentations and an ag fair is held during that week.

Anderegg said their program is set up as a 501(c)3 and is funded through grants, donations and the county Farm Bureau members.

The only expense to the schools for Ag in the Classroom is the cost of transportation for field trips.

The program grows every year and another school was added for next year, she said.

Schools can contact the Farm Bureau office or can be approached by the coordinators to see if they are interested in participating.

The program can be tailored to meet the needs and size of the school.

The coordinators show the teachers what is available in the program and teachers can choose to fit their lessons.

The Ag in the Classroom program as run by the Cerro Gordo County office has been very successful and serves as a model for other programs across the state.

When Ryg was asked what the third graders remember about their field trip to the dairy farm, she said, kids remember honking the tractor horn.

Contact Clayton Rye at crye@wctatel.net.

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