Day at the farm
Tonganoxie third-graders spent Friday morning learning about agriculture.
The "Day at the Farm" class, sponsored by the Tonganoxie High School chapter of Future Farmers of America, included lessons on conservation, animal care and hunting at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds in Tonganoxie.
Tracie McGraw, the FFA member in charge of planning the day had a down-to-earth way of reaching the children.
When her brother, Travis, asked a group of third-graders if they knew what foods corn is used in, the children came up with a variety of responses. But none of their ideas seemed to click until Tracie McGraw said, "How many of you have eaten Doritos?"
Tracie McGraw, Travis McGraw and their father, Mike McGraw, brought farm equipment, including a combine, to show the children.
Other points of interest included a stop with Gary Rader, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Leavenworth, who talked to the children about soil conservation, and Mel Theno, who brought a trailer that gave a moment-to-moment demonstration showing the possible damage from water erosion.
A favorite stopping point was nearby where Jeff Dickinson was putting new shoes on his 27-year-old horse, Ghengis.
Students watched as Dickinson explained where one does and does not want to hammer the nails into a horse's hooves. As he worked, Ghengis didn't seem to mind being the center of so much attention.
Next to him, Dickinson's daughter, Jessica, introduced Quincy, a 5-year-old horse she shows.
Russell Plaschka, FFA sponsor who teaches agricultural education, said this was probably the ninth year FFA students had held some sort of farm activities for younger students.
They invite the third-graders, because, as Plaschka said, "They're young enough to still be interested and they're old enough we can hold their attention for 15 or 20 minutes."
Plaschka said this is the most in-depth "Day at the Farm" the local FFA chapter has ever sponsored.
It took about 30 FFA members to plan and carry out the event, he said.
Some of the other educational activities included a booth where Chad Bradley talked about livestock feed.
Megan Lawrence brought sheep to show to the young flock of children, and Erika Connel brought two piglets.
Terry Gober, Jenny Crookham and Jessica Elliott talked about crops, and Cale Calovich helped representatives of Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks talk about wildlife and hunting.
Also, soil scientist Dave Kircheck talked to the students about the study of soil and rocks.
Erika Connell said the children enjoyed her pigs, and said they came up with lots of interesting suggestions for names, including, Wilbur, Hamlet, Bacon and Porky.
One instructor for the morning, Katie Hinds, a graduate of Tonganoxie High School and a former FFA member, came back to high school for a day to teach the children about poultry.
The third-graders seemed to appreciate the day.
Tommy Briggs said, "I liked the erosion booth. We learned how water can tear up soil."
Matthew Brock liked learning about animals.
"They told us how to take care of animals and how to feed them," he said.
Teacher Sally Coombs said the day was an educational adventure for the students.
"Even the ones who live in town and have never been on a farm seemed to be interested," she said.