Morris Area FFA teaches urban students about agriculture
MORRIS – The closest many students at Risen Christ Elementary School in Minneapolis had gotten to livestock was the Minnesota State Fair.
That changed last Friday when members of the Morris Area FFA visited the school as part of the fourth annual Urban Ag in the Classroom, a program designed to teach students in urban areas how food gets to their plate.
The approximately 65 Morris Area students who signed up took on different projects throughout the day at two different schools – Risen Christ and Bancroft Elementary.
Many were in classrooms interacting with students, while others helped manage livestock, give tours, and prepare raised vegetable beds to help older students plant a vegetable garden.
FFA members work in teams of five in each classroom to go through lessons targeted at students at different grade levels. Three students leaders read through a script that talks about the names of different animals and the importance of crops like corn and soybeans.
In one activity, students planted a corn seed in a “seed house” made of cotton balls and a plastic bag, then have space in a journal to take notes on how it grows, explained senior Steph Hennen.
“It's fun to see how the kids interact,” said Hennen. “It's hands on and we're able to show kids things they've maybe never seen before. It's cool to see their expressions.”
Students also watched a short video and prepared questions – How do you make bread? What about cheese? Where does bacon come from? How does a cow chew?
The highlight of the day, however, was getting to go outside and see farm animals up close. This year, students got to learn about a heifer, goats, sheep, pigs and see a cow being milked.
For junior Brady Wulf, the program is a chance to learn more about the students' lives and share stories about what the ag industry does.
“The ag industry needs to do this more, educate kids,” said Wulf.
This year, several Stevens County farmers also attended to give students a chance to “ask a farmer” and volunteers with the West Central Cattlemen grilled burgers for attendees.