The Martin County FSA staff met with Kindergarten to Second Grade children at St. James Lutheran School in Northrop, Minnesota for National Agriculture Day. The students were taught the meaning of agriculture as well as all the different things created from a variety of agricultural items: the cereal they ate for breakfast that morning and the clothes that they were wearing all came from agricultural commodities. The students were also introduced to the faces of agriculture and their roles: Produce Buyer, Farmer, Veterinarian, Mechanic, Pipeline Engineer, Park Ranger, and Agri-Businesswoman. Technology was also a large topic as the staff discussed with the children how things have changed over the years in agriculture to make farming easier and more efficient.
The staff separated the children into two groups and had two different Ag Day stations prepared. The first station was about soils and seeds. The experiment started with three 2 liter pop bottles cut horizontally. Each pop bottle contained different items: the first held soil, the second held soil and debris, and the third held soil and plants. We poured water into the pop bottles and the students were able to see how the water drained through each soil as it poured into a cup hanging over the edge of the open spout. This also portrayed soil erosion and how plants “drink” the water in order to stay healthy. After this the students were given a plastic food glove and the staff explained the parts of seeds, the similarities and differences of each, and how seeds grow. The students were instructed to put a single seed into each finger of the glove and then place a wet cotton ball on the top of the seeds. The students were instructed to hang their gloves in the sun and make sure that the cotton balls remained wet and then once the seed started growing into a seedling they could plant it in soil. These activities made the kids feel like farmers themselves, but as the plant grows, the experiment will also demonstrate the students how a plant grows.
The second station was created to educate the students on the history of agricultural technology, teamwork, and production. The students were taken outside to a jungle gym where apples were placed in the middle of the jungle gym. The FSA Staff and the students discussed how things have changed over the years for agriculture and harvesting. The students were split into two teams and the staff explained how the jungle gym represented an apple tree and how in the “old days” people handpicked all their produce. Their first activity was working together to bring the apples down and place into a designated area with proper care not to bruise them so they could be sold. After the students completed that portion of the activity, they were given two baskets per team and again asked to “climb the apple tree” and work together to bring the apples to a designated area using the baskets (reminding the children take heed on their produce). The final round consisted of the students working together to figure the best technique for “climbing the apple tree”, retrieving the most apples possible, placing them into a wheelbarrow/wagon and taking them to a designated area.
The staff provided the each student with a small bag containing an FSA notepad, FSA pencil, and FSA temporary tattoos that were stapled to activity sheets for them to share with their families at home. The FSA Staff also allowed the children to select their own apple from their pickings. The remaining apples were donated for a future school lunch.