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By Staff | Feb 21, 2012

Roger Lansink has students “take a whiff” of an organic material before telling them that it’s worm feces. “We try not to use chemical fertilizers or sprays,” Lansink said. “We employ a lot of bean walkers on our farm and have the clean rows to show for it.”

By DOUG CLOUGH/Farm News staff writer

ODEBOLT – It’s said that agriculture is the nation’s largest employer.

Russ Davis, a Nemaha area farmer, makes it a practice to show students this point.

Davis was a Feb. 17 speaker for the Farm Bureau’s I AM AG career expo at Odebolt-Arthur/Battle Creek-Ida Grove Middle School.

Davis, dressed in coveralls, explained tools of the trade for the hands-on ag expert.

By the end of his presentation, he shed the overalls for a shirt and tie, illustrating other careers within agribusiness.

With an array of visual aids, he drove home the point – agribusiness is big business with lots of job choices.

Farm Bureau, in conjunction with OA/BC-IG’s FFA chapter, provided a day for students to hear from ag professionals about their chosen careers.

“FFA prepares member for more than 300 careers in science business and technology,” said Eric Miller, the FFA chapter’s adviser. “In the classroom, activities include hands-on opportunities as well. What we saw today were local examples of careers that involve all of these concepts.”

Students also attended 25-minute breakout sessions.

Area farmer Roger Lansink presented his background on organic farming, bringing seed and natural fertilizer examples for the students to see and touch.

Pupils were instructed to open a bag with a dirt-like substance and “take a whiff.” All agreed the material was odorless.

“It’s worm poop,” said Lansink, whose audience received the news with wrinkled noses. “It’s great natural fertilizer and one of the most sought-after tools of the trade.”

Terri Carstensen, of Bar V Feedlot, of Ida Grove, and another of the 12 presenters, told students about distributing, tracking, and shipping beef overseas.

“World trade is very important to the beef industry,” she said. “I’ve been to Tokyo, Japan, South Korea and other foreign countries to promote beef we raise right here in Iowa.”

Carstensen provided overviews of advertising, nutritionist and food stylist careers associated with marketing in the beef industry.

Carstensen said in the most recent “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” promotion, many recognized the voice of actor of Matthew McConaughey.

“I went to New York City to see him tape that spot. It was fun to watch a professional like him work,” she said.

Local retailers Jack and Jane Hogue, own and operate The Prairie Pedlar Gardens, selling shrubs, bushes, trees and other items to the public.

They also have several acres of display gardens and conduct educational forums.

“The career I chose,” Jane Hogue said about horticulture, “allows me to express what I know about colors and shapes.

“If you like being outside and expressing yourself through art, this kind of work might be for you.”

Other presentations farm implement and diesel mechanics, veterinarian services, crop specialist, biofuels and ethanol production, banking, Extension services, beekeeping, county conservation and ag technology.

Cody Fredericks, an OA/BC-IG eighth-grader, saw a potential career in county conservation.

“I like being outside and seeing things others don’t notice,” Fredericks said. “I’m always the first to see deer, pheasant and turkeys. I’d like working outside and supporting habitat.”

Vince Davis, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s regional manager, coordinates the program. “We did this last year for the first time at Ridgeview Middle School.

“We got a great response from students and their parents. We hope to continue this valuable program on an annual basis.”

Contact Doug Clough at douglasclough@gmail.com.

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