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Tuesday October 24th 2017

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Ag Club ‘ag-vocates’ in elementary classrooms

Summer Beery (left) and Sara Wede (right) lead an activity at Hunt Elementary.

Summer Beery (left) and Sara Wede (right) lead an activity at Hunt Elementary.

by Rachael Arnts–For this year’s Into the Streets, Morningside Ag Club members spent their day “Ag-vocating” with Siouxland Ag in the Classroom. The goal of this partnership was for Ag Club members to bring agricultural awareness to five different Sioux City Elementary Schools.

 

Siouxland Ag in the Classroom is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating area youth about agriculture. Most days are spent in elementary classrooms in a seven-county region facilitating hands-on lessons that incorporate agriculture into a teacher’s daily curriculum.

Nine Ag Club members broke up into four groups in order to cover more schools and classrooms. Their task was to teach lessons about corn. The lower grades, like preschool and kindergarten, were taught the lesson “My Family’s Corn Farm.” The higher grades like (third and fourth) were taught the lesson “The Disappearing Packing Peanut.”

For the “My Family’s Corn Farm” lesson, Ag Club members read a story and let students touch an actual cornstalk and see if they could name the different parts. Then Ag Club members led an activity where students got to plant their own corn seeds while learning what a corn plant needs in order to grow.

For “The Disappearing Packing Peanut” lesson, Ag Club members read a story and again let students come up and touch a corn stalk and challenged them to name all of the parts.

Since this lesson was taught to upper elementary kids, the Ag Club members helped the kids conduct a science experiment. The kids were to observe how packing peanuts made of corn differed from Styrofoam peanuts when they were put into water. The purpose of this experiment was to teach kids about biodegradable products and their impact on the environment.

“We had a great time working with Morningside students,” said Melissa Nelson, director of Siouxland Ag in the Classroom. “It was fun to see them interact with the elementary students and teach them about agriculture. You could see their passion for the industry in how they taught.”

Junior ag major Nicole Langbein is no stranger to this type of work. In high school, she would visit elementary classrooms to talk about agriculture during National FFA Week. She was excited to once again have the opportunity to share her passion for agriculture.

Langbein said, “As an agriculture major, I want to educate people about where their food comes from and as an individual who grew up on a family farm, it is important to me to tell the producer’s story and explain why they do what they do.”

Langbein was not surprised that few elementary kids had any sort of agricultural knowledge or had even been on a farm. This made her even more excited to interact with the kids. She hoped to spark the interest of these elementary students, so they will be involved in 4-H and FFA when they are older.

“They all seemed to have a genuine want, to learn about agriculture and were very intent and engaged,” explained Langbein.

Nelson and Langbein both stressed the importance of teaching agricultural concepts to elementary students.

“The agriculture industry needs to lessen the gap between producer and consumer that is so prominent in today’s society,” said Nelson. “These youth are America’s future buyers, voters and influencers. We need them to be knowledgeable of modern agriculture.”

“This is an influential time in an individual’s life,” Langbein said.

In the future Nelson would like to continue growing a relationship with the Morningside Ag Club. She sees a great potential for internships and more volunteer opportunities.