Celebrating Ag Day

3/28/2014

Celebrating Ag Day

Celebrating Ag Day

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Kids love cheeseburgers, so it was only fitting on Friday afternoon that students at Jennie Barker Elementary School be taught the role that agriculture plays in their creation.

"I want you guys to think about this: If we didn't have the farmer or rancher, would we have this cheeseburger to eat? We would not," said Jennifer Gerber, Finney County Farm Bureau coordinator, using a fake cheeseburger to show the kids all its ingredients.

Ingredient by ingredient, Gerber explained to the students how cheeseburgers come about during the elementary school's celebration of Agriculture Day.

"Let's start with the bun. What is the bun made out of?" Gerber asked students, to which they collectively answered "wheat."

Gerber then explained the process of wheat production.

"Think about this, for each one of these little seeds that the farmer puts into the ground, when it grows, he's able to get a whole bunch of more seeds from the one seed that he starts out with," Gerber said.

Using a toy tractor, Gerber explained to the students the way that farmers plant the seeds in the ground, although most of them already had a pretty good idea about the process.

"You guys are lucky enough that you get to go to school in the country that has fields all around so you can see sometimes what the farmers are out in their fields doing," Gerber said.

Gerber then asked the kids if they understood the origin of the hamburger patty and the role that both farmers and ranchers play in providing the beef that hamburger patties are made of.

"What kind of cow do we get that hamburger patty from? There are two different kinds of cows. There are beef cows, and there are dairy cows. Where does this hamburger patty come from? Which cow? It comes from the beef cow. And that's what their purpose is, is to be raised and fed really, really good so that they get fat and grow up, and then they're butchered so that we have meat to eat, like hamburger and steaks and things like that," she said. "But tell me this, what does that cow eat so she's able to grow and get big and fat? What kinds of things does she eat?"

The kids collectively answered, "Corn, alfalfa, hay and milo."

"So that farmer has to plant these other crops so that those animals have things to eat, too," Gerber said.

The kids also got to learn all about a sheep named Lamby. Lora Norquest and her daughter, Audrey Norquest, a sixth-grader at the school, brought their 3-week-old sheep to show the students.

"These are sheep that are called crossbred sheep. They have black ears and legs, they have a black face, and this is their wool, but this is going to turn white when they get bigger," Lora Norquest said, referring to the sheep's midsection.

Audrey explained to the students what she feeds the baby sheep.

"This is powder milk we make. This is what we feed her while she's a baby, but, when she grows up, she'll learn how to eat alfalfa. And she's already starting to eat a little bit of that. Basically, what they eat at this age is milk. When they're at least 4 weeks old, we'll stop feeding them milk, and they'll learn how to eat alfalfa, feed and corn," Audrey said.

Lora said that sheep behave a lot like dogs, at least when they are still babies.

"She thinks she's a dog because she hangs out with the dogs that we have, and she runs up and down the stairs into the front door, but she goes to the barn tomorrow to become a sheep," Lora said.

The kids also learned about the high school organization Future Farmers of America. Sophomore LaRae Boaldin and Junior Sara Bilberry told the students the different kinds of things they do as members of FFA.

"We do a lot of different kinds of judging: horse, dairy, cows, pigs and sheep, and so we judge all different kinds of animals at our contests," Bilberry told students.

Bilberry also told the students about chickens.

"There's different breeds of chickens, and some are raised to be meat chickens, or chickens that you eat, and then some of them are raised to be laying chickens that just lay eggs. And some of them are just breeder chickens that just have eggs that make more chickens," Bilberry said.

Outside near the playground, local farmer Stephen Ramsey showed students his John Deere tractor, explaining the way he uses it to plant his crops. While most of the kids had questions about the weight of the tractor or its cost, one little girl asked Ramsey if he had ever run over any kinds of animals, while pointing at the tractor's very large tires.

"I've run over a skunk and that makes for a really crappy day," Ramsey said, laughing.

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