“Agriculture is the process of preparing the soil to raise crops and livestock!” Just ask any 2nd grader from Washington Elementary, St. Joseph, or Elyria, and they will tell you. These were the three schools whose 2nd graders participated in our “In the Class and On the Farm (ICOF)” program for 2012. The program was made possible largely through grants and donations from Kansas Farm Bureau. Several local businesses also partnered with Grammy’s Pumpkin Patch to sponsor the agriculture education program – Krehbiel’s Specialty Meats, Kiwanis Club of McPherson, Artshirt, and Tractor Supply Co. Due to the increasing tightening of school budgets, we are so thankful that these businesses and community groups value ag education!
My family has been greatly blessed to grow up with personal access to a farm. We realize that this is not true for a growing number of students, even within McPherson county. Statistics show that, on average, the elementary student is two generations removed from the farm. Along with this gap, comes a growing disconnect between the field and the table for most students.We believe that everyone deserves to be informed consumers of all products (food, textile, etc). We also believe that to be an informed consumer, one must be made aware of true agriculture. What better way to teach than on the farm?
The curriculum is two-fold. Angie and myself, both Kansas certified teachers, go into the classroom to teach the basic “what, why, and so what?” about Kansas agriculture. We begin by posing the question, “Who in here has been affected by agriculture today?” We are usually met with 3 or 4 hands per class. Most responses include petting or feeding the family pet, seeing a cow on the way to school, or dreaming of barnyard animals. The next couple of hours are spent defining agriculture, learning how each and every person is affected by agriculture every day, and learning specifically about Kansas’s Top Crops. All of these lessons are hands-on and align with state teaching standards.
The second part of the ICOF program is a day of common core lessons taught through the lens of agriculture that takes place on Johnstown Farm during the pumpkin harvest season.
These were some packed full days – certainly some of my favorites from the season. We hope to see all three schools back next year, and also be able to extend the program to other 2nd grade classrooms. Thanks again to Kansas Farm Bureau, Krehbiel’s Specialty Meats, Kiwanis Club of McPherson, TSC, and Artshirt!Grammy’s Pumpkin Patch 2012 – McPherson, KS