Visitin’ with Farmer Jim
By BENNET GOLDSTEIN
MARSHALLTOWN – It was a down on the farm morning for fourth-grade students at Woodbury Elementary School in Marshalltown on Feb. 20.
Well, sort of.
Thanks to the wonders of a video camera and Internet connection, students didn’t have to brave frigid teen temperatures to tour Jim Mosher’s farm east of Liscomb.
Instead, about 62 youths packed a Woodbury classroom, sitting at desks and on the floor, watching a live video broadcast from Mosher’s cattle feedlot and barns.
The program, called FarmChat, was organized through a partnership among Marshall County Iowa State University Extension, the Marshalltown school district and Marshall County Farm Bureau.
This is the first year the program has been offered. Its aim is to expose students to agriculture in Iowa.
Some students have never seen a farm before, said fourth grade classroom teacher Gladis Gonzalez.
“The kids get to see what really happens,” she said.
Students watched farm workers prepare cattle feed and hungry cattle eat. They also learned about the ways injured cattle are treated and calves weaned.
Mosher periodically stopped to take questions.
“Have the cattle ever got stuck in the wires?” a fourth grader asked.
No, Mosher said. The cables are designed to confine the cattle and have adjustable heights.
Since November, students have taken monthly virtual field trips to Mosher’s farm. They received agriculture lessons tied into subjects they are learning in their classrooms.
For instance, to buffer their math skills, Mosher gave them an assignment.
By the next session, in March, students are to calculate the amount of feed a 1,000-pound cow can consume in a day if it eats 2 percent of its body weight.
Gonzalez said a few students expressed an interest in farming.
“Some of them are actually very excited when we have these meetings,” she said. “That’s the goal in the long run.”
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