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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Earth Day Celebration

Our county Farm Bureau helps host a 5 county Earth Day Educational Day each year that was started in 1996 by one of the area Young Farmer's and Ranchers groups.  It is amazing to me how many kids come to the event that have never seen anything about farming up close.  This year my oldest got to go, so I took a small break from the farm to see the day.

I met up with them at the Red Bud Trees.  These trees are native to Southeast Kansas.  The farmer that talks to the kids about the trees has done it for years and does an awesome job of putting things into kid friendly terms.

Here she is explaining that those aren't roots they are straws that the tree uses to suck water and nutrients out of the soil.  :)  She also explained how the roots need to be spread out, so they aren't all drinking out of the same "cup."

The kids got to wrap wet shredded paper around the bare root trees to get them ready to go home.

A group of FFA students helped the kids put the trees in a produce bag and made sure the twist tie was tight, so wouldn't leak any water on the way home.

One of my favorite things to watch is the rainfall simulator.  In the trays they had native grass, fescue grass and wheat.  The kids can see in the glass jars how much soil is lost when it rains on the ground with the different types of crops growing in the soil.  The native grass would be the prairie that has never been tilled.  Imagine, the same plants that buffalo once ate!

One stop that had a been wanting to see was the trailer from the Southwest Dairy Farmers.  Yes!  That is a real 2 year old dairy cow in the trailer.  She can eat and drink while the presenter talks to the kids about what the cows eat and drink.  The kids even got to see how they milk a cow.  On the right hand side of the photo you can see the jug that the milk goes into from the cow.

My son's favorite stop was the stream bed trailer.  The trailer is filled with recycled shredded plastic and has a water pump to make a river through the trailer.  He liked how they made a small river channel for the water to flow through.  The presenter has the ability to increase the water flow to mimic a flood and the kids can see how it damages the stream banks and makes the river wider and wider.
They can also see the mouth of the river (think gulf or bay) to see where silt settles out and can cause issues for others down the river.
I enjoyed these high school kids presentation on wheat.  Here they are explaining the difference between wheat beards and the beards on Duck Dynasty.
His partner showed the variety of products can be made from wheat.  Do you see the Play Doh and laundry detergent?

The soybean table also had a wide variety of products.  I covered most of these in my post The Incredible Industrial Bean.

My son said his class let him take care of the matching farm equipment game.  Apparently, he did really well.  :)
Not only did a couple of older kids have a couple of lambs for the kids to pet, they also taught the kids about the items that can be made from sheep besides lamb and mutton meat.

I wish I had the bracelet that these area FFA members taught the kids to make, but I have a son.  Boys lose things.  Boys generally don't like to wear jewelry.  Did I mention boys lose things?
Anyway, at this station the kids made a bracelet with different colored beads symbolizing water, sun air I said he lost his and my memory is short.

Of course, the kids got to see real farm equipment up close.
My son said he also enjoyed the presentation about corn and all the products that can be made from field corn.  Apparently, we have taught him well, because the presenter was trying to figure out who's kid actually knew all the answers.  :)
This field trip is a great way for our area kids to really see how important farming is not only to our local area, but the entire world.  Most area schools attend, but it is sad to many of us that there are a few schools that don't see the importance of agriculture in everyone's life.  Most counties will even pay for the cost of the bus and driver to get the kids to the field day (that is how our local school agrees to go every year).

How do your area school kids learn about farming and food production?

-A Kansas Farm Mom