It's A Good Thing

“It’s a good thing you guys are doing here” said the bus driver for a third-grade class visiting our farm. We have a pen pal class from an Omaha school through the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation Ag Pen Pal Program. Throughout the year we have been sending letters back and forth learning about one another. The visit to the farm involves all the senses as the student’s taste, see, hear, smell, and touch farm life.

“The farm visit goes beyond the communication through letters and pictures that started the friendship. Student senses are engaged in the learning process of what we do on our farms. We believe the field trips build positive experiences the students will take into adulthood about how food is raised and the friendship they have with a farm family.”
-Joan Ruskamp

Steve and I have been Ag Pen Pals for many years. This is a great program to connect urban kids with farm families. We have two schools, one in Omaha and one in Newman Grove, that we correspond with throughout the year. The students tell us a little bit about themselves, what they like and questions about our farm. The questions over the years have ranged from “Do you ever go to the city?” to “Do the cattle live outside?”. One student from a Lincoln, NE school asked us if we had a CB radio name what would it be. The student thought it was quite funny when Steve replied “T-bone!”.

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One of the stations taught the students about the different ingredients used to feed cattle and how each ingredient is carefully weighed and mixed. They loved taking turns mixing the corn, hay, vitamins, ground ear corn and distiller’s grain.

Steve and I have been Ag Pen Pals for many years. This is a great program to connect urban kids with farm families. We have two schools, one in Omaha and one in Newman Grove, that we correspond with throughout the year. The students tell us a little bit about themselves, what they like and questions about our farm. The questions over the years have ranged from “Do you ever go to the city?” to “Do the cattle live outside?”. One student from a Lincoln, NE school asked us if we had a CB radio name what would it be. The student thought it was quite funny when Steve replied “T-bone!”.

Most of the students we correspond with have no direct connection to a farm. Through the correspondence we are able to provide answers to their questions and tell the story about how cattle are cared for on our feedlot. We have also provided our current pen pal classes with a picture book to help them see the farm throughout the seasons and what kinds of jobs we do.

The farm visit takes a lot of time to prepare for. We line up small animals for a petting zoo from 4-H families in our area. The students are also served a beef lunch. This year we ordered t-shirts for them to wear. Our “Beef gives you ZIP” slogan is a great reminder of the nutritional benefits of eating beef. Zinc, iron, and protein are just a few of ten essential nutrients beef provides!

The comments from the bus driver reassured me about the value of hosting all ages to visit our farm. He mentioned the good memory he had of visiting a farm when he was in grade school.  The Ag Pen Pal Program is more than sharing facts and information. The program helps us build relationships between farmers and our urban friends. These students will forever have a special place in our hearts and we hope they will have the same for us.


Agricultural Education Students Receive Scholarships

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Nine students received the 2018 Agricultural Education Student Teaching Scholarship. The Foundation will award $1,500 to each winner during his or her student teaching semester. Four of the nine honorees were in attendance and recognized at the Nebraska Agricultural Educators Association banquet. Pictured are (L-R) Matt Kreifels, Nebraska Agricultural Education state staff, Trevor Spath, Haley Zabel, Alex Cumming, and Lynn Hanson.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation awarded nine scholarships to students enrolled in the Agricultural Education Teaching Program at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

“Each of these nine students have demonstrated a passion for agriculture and excitement to continue to grow the agricultural education and FFA programs in Nebraska,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. “We are happy to support scholarships that align with our vison of developing strong agricultural leaders to ensure a bright future for agriculture in Nebraska,” she continued.

Each recipient will receive a $1,500 scholarship during his or her student teaching semester at the University. Applicants shared why they wanted to be an agricultural education teacher, professional goals for the future, and what the scholarship would mean to them.

“UNL more than doubled the amount of new agricultural education teachers this year compared to the average graduating classes of the past decade!” said Matt Kriefels, Nebraska Department of Education agricultural education staff. “We are thankful that the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation supports these future teachers and ensures a strong foundation for the future of agriculture.”

The nine recipients of the scholarships are Rachelle Allen, York County; Eleanor Aufdenkamp, Lincoln County; Alex Cumming, Platte County; Lynn Hanson, Saunders County; KateLynn Ness, Dodge County; Haley Rogers, Dawson County; Trevor Spath, Cass County; Emilye Vales, Saline County; Haley Zabel, Lancaster County.

Scholarships recipients were honored at the Nebraska Career Education (NCE) Conference in Kearney, June 6. Four of the nine honorees were in attendance and recognized at the Nebraska Agricultural Educators Association banquet. In attendance were Alex Cumming, Lynn Hanson, Trevor Spath, and Haley Zabel.

At the conference, the Foundation announced a call for applications for the Nebraska Agricultural Education Teacher Retention Program. Current teachers who have existing student loans and are in their first through fifth year of teaching are invited to apply. Applications can be found at www.nefbfoundation.org and are due August 15.