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‘We Are Agriculture’

By Staff | Mar 9, 2012

Jeremy Viles teaches students about farm conservation as part of Calhoun County Farm Bureau’s We Are Agriculture Ag Day at South Central Calhoun Middle School Friday.

By BRANDON

L. SUMMERS

For Farm News

ROCKWELL CITY – An Ag Day extravaganza was held Friday at South Central Calhoun Middle School in Rockwell City, conducted by the Calhoun County Farm Bureau.

“We’re trying to get the young people in the area to realize how important agriculture is in our area,” Dennis Booth, Farm Bureau member, said.

Brad Black, Calhoun County Farm Bureau, talks with South Central Calhoun Middle School students about myths and facts surrounding food production as part of Friday’s We Are Agriculture Ag Day event.

We Are Agriculture invited students in grades seven and eight to participate in 12 breakout sessions covering a wide range of agricultural topics and areas over the course of the school day, Booth said.

The students heard from veterinarians, ag mechanics and bankers, and learned about corn and soybean production, and ag technology.

“Of course, technology is a big thing nowadays for the farmer, because it’s really progressed from when we started being farmers way back when,” he said. “It was just basically a small farm; now they’re large farms and a lot of technology is involved. You have to be very intelligent to become a farmer.”

For international ag, students heard from a Farm Bureau board member who travels overseas to assist in various agricultural areas. They heard from a Rockwell City farmer who started Farmers Best Gourmet Popcorn, which is sold in local stores. Students learned about both swine and cattle from people who raised them, on how it’s important to keep the animals in a quality environment.

On conservation, students learned about the importance of keeping the water in streams and rivers clean, and how any application of fertilizer should be done appropriately.

In ag trivia, students learned about the different products they use that are made from agricultural byproducts, as well as myths and facts about food production.

Booth said it is important for young people to know about the value of agriculture.

“We feel that agriculture is moving in the correct direction,” he said. “We want them to understand that it’s very important, there are many careers that you can get into in agriculture, and that it’s just important for them to see the values right now.”

There’s also an educational value, Booth said.

“We want them to understand the educational value of going through school and making correct choices as they go through their lifetime,” he said.

“We ask our presenters, like veterinarians and ag mechanics, what kind of schooling do you have to have? What kind of grades do you have to have? How long do you have to go to school?”

Booth said they started at the middle school level so kids could become more involved in agriculture and Future Farmers of America at an earlier age.

“We don’t necessarily think they’ll move away from it, but we just want to expose them more to it,” he said.

State FFA officers also participated, bringing a sense of “enthusiasm” to the day, Booth said.

Secretary Sarah Doese, an agriculture education student at Des Moines Area Community College, said the team of nine officers helped discuss teaching agriculture in the classroom.

“We focus a lot on the hands-on experiences,” she said. “We really thrive on taking what we learn inside the classroom and putting it into hands-on learning in a real-life situation, through supervised agricultural experiences, and then we take that into the FFA organization and give those leadership aspects in teaching kids life experiences.”

Doese said the team enjoyed speaking with the middle school students.

“We love to meet anywhere from students that are prospective agriculturalists to students that are graduating from high school and looking to go into an agricultural industry,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Terry Seehusen, Farm Bureau regional manager, said Friday the day was going well.

“What’s pretty neat about this whole thing is they’re not just getting one aspect of agriculture, but getting exposed to animals, to crop rotation, to value-added ag, to what’s in a bag of corn chips. Everything that’s involved in ag, they’re getting exposed to,” he said.

Seehusen said agriculture is important in Iowa.

“Let’s all be reminded that approximately 17 to 18 percent of Iowa’s employment is either directly earned or directly employed because of agriculture,” he said. “It’s the No. 1 economic engine in the state of Iowa. As agriculture grows, so grows our economy.”

According to Seehusen, it’s this agricultural growth that has allowed Iowa to prosper in difficult economic times.

“Because agriculture has been so good, we kind of avoided the pitfalls of the economic downfall,” he said. “There’s a lot to be said for that.”

Booth said if the day was a success, Calhoun County Farm Bureau would hold further events.

“Our goal is, we have a couple of schools here in Calhoun County. We’re going to try to go to Manson Northwest Webster next year, and do the same thing with seventh- and eighth-graders, if they’ll have us,” he said, “and then rotate back to this school so every year we’ll hit seventh- and eighth-graders, but we won’t hit the same students.”

Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141 or bsummers@messengernews.net

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