Inspiring Fifth Graders in Keith County to Understand and Connect with Agriculture
Keith County Farm Bureau members work to engage young people in Ogallala. Jean Thunker, who serves on the board of the Keith County Farm Bureau, knows there is a tremendous need for students and their parents to know where their food, fiber, and fuel come from and that place is on our farms and ranches in Nebraska.
“Many of us believe that there is an agriculture disconnect in urban cities, but what we have found is that it can be just as bad in rural areas. There are not as many farmers and ranchers as there once were, and we are now seeing people who are three to four times removed from their grandparents’ farms and ranches,” Thunker said.
To help bridge the gap, members of the Keith County Farm Bureau invited fifth graders from five schools to participate in an Agriculture Field Day in Ogallala on Sept. 26. Students were able to get hands-on learning on everything from equipment safety to harvesting corn.
"It makes us feel good to know we're engaging students and having them see agriculture in a new light. Agriculture is Nebraska’s number one industry, and it shapes our rural landscapes and our rural economies. So, when we see these students and their parents around town, they're like ’oh yeah! I know you.’ They begin to tell us what they did in school and how that field trip helped them understand that their food doesn’t grow at the grocery store but is raised by local, caring farmers and ranchers. It makes you feel like you have accomplished something,” Thunker said.
The students were able to visit specialized stations that showcased the entire growing process from planting seeds in the soil to the actual harvest of those farm products. Students also got to see, and touch equipment needed in the growing process.
“Out in this area we have a lot of grain farmers and those who raise livestock, specifically cattle. It is important to connect the dots for children that cattle are raised so we can put steaks in the grocery store,” Thunker said.
The event was held at the Keith County Fairgrounds, and two FFA Chapters volunteered as group leaders. It is the fifth year of this event and the teachers are engaged right along with the students.
"These students don’t get this kind of opportunity every day, because agriculture is not necessarily part of their everyday curriculum. We hope this hands-on learning session will help them understand the different aspects of agriculture and appreciate the role our number one industry plays in our rural communities," she said.
Agricultural Education Teachers Receive Awards
The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation works to keep agricultural educators in Nebraska classrooms by awarding 13 Nebraska agricultural education teachers $14,000.
“All 13 teachers make a difference in their classrooms and their communities,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. “We’re proud to support the future of agriculture and the growth of agricultural education and FFA in Nebraska, and we congratulate this year’s winners,” she continued.
Recipients are all agricultural education teachers in their first through fifth year of teaching. Teachers are eligible for increasing awards each year. As the teachers’ impact grows in the classroom, in their FFA chapters, and in their communities each year, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation aims to recognize and support their contributions.
The 13 recipients of the scholarships are Victoria Armstrong, Maywood Public Schools; Jesse Bower, Friend Public School; Aubrie Brown, Elba Public Schools; Evey Choat, Laurel-Concord-Coleridge Public School; Hannah Horak, Shelton High School; Brian Johnson, Litchfield Public Schools; Rebekah Kraeger, Cozad Community Schools; Reed Kraeger, Elwood Public Schools; Justin Nolette, Cody-Kilgore Unified Schools; Lacey Peterson, Riverside Public Schools; Tyler Schindler, Omaha Bryan High School; Morgan Schwartz, Stanton Community Schools; Nicole Sorensen, Minatare High School.