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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Area youth learn about farming

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Debbie Slusher of Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, speaks to students.
BENTON -- As David Guethle raised each crop sample in front of a group of third graders from Oran Elementary, the children shouted their names: "Cotton! Corn! Soybeans!" -- and then there was a pause. The children were stumped.

Guethle was holding some unfamiliar items -- milo and wheat. But that was OK. That was the purpose of attending the Third Annual Farm Day hosted by the Scott County Women in Agriculture at the Benton Community Building.

Although they didn't know everything, Guethle was impressed by the knowledge of the 8- and 9-year-olds.

"They seem pretty interested," Guethle said about the children. "Many of them knew a lot of the questions asked."

Guethle, an agronomist for the Stoddard County Extension Office, proceeded to explain the parts of a seed such as the hull, bran and germ. He discussed the stages of rice from growth to harvest and the use of sand versus clay when growing rice.

"It's an extension of what we teach in the classroom," said Oran Elementary third grade teacher Connie White. "We cover these topics in class, but we can't go into complete detail."

Approximately 300 students were present for the event Tuesday, estimated Scott County Women in Agriculture President Lori Glastetter. Ten stations with exhibitors from Scott County and surrounding counties were set up inside the community building. Schools were divided into two-hour morning and afternoon sessions.

"We just hope the kids get a better understanding of where things come from and things they see everyday. They might learn where their baseball glove or bat or baseball comes from the next time they see something," noted Glastetter.

Topics discussed ranged from how butterflies affect crops and how potatoes and soybeans are grown to the production of beef and farm safety. There was a tractor display, and Missouri Farm Bureau representatives were on hand to provide literature and free video checkouts to teachers.

"Even though we are living in this agricultural community, there still a lot of the kids who aren't familiar with agriculture," pointed out Kelly R-4 teacher Margaret Arteme.

Glastetter said Tuesday was a day the organization could teach local children about agricultural processes and products that are produced on the farm.

The Monsanto plant in Matthews helped contact representatives with the national program Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, which is headquartered in Earlham, Iowa. Slusher and a partner presented a "puppet show."

"It's a wonderful program," agreed Debbie Slusher of Farm Safety 4 Just Kids. "Today there are less and less farmers and when kids can realize the importance of farming, it helps those kids who want to be farmers some day and those kids who will visit farms."

Slusher stressed the importance of farming and animal safety such as staying outside of a fence, how mother animals are protective of their young and how a bigger animal can be very damaging to a smaller person.

Because farmers are often out in the sun, a representative from the Cancer Coalition and the Scott County Health Department was on hand to discuss sun safety.

"Of course they've all worn sunscreen and have had sunburns, but we talked about using a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and protection against Ultraviolet A and B rays," said the public information officer Brenda Freed.

But perhaps the most unforgettable exhibit was Lily, a live milking cow. Lily, a Holstein cow, was on display in a trailer for children to pet and observe her being milked.

Clint Linn, instructor for the Southwest Dairy Center based in Sulphur Springs, Texas, taught the children about where milk comes from and the nutrition involved in milk. He also demonstrated milking the cow.

Kelly High School FFA members also helped the Scott County Women in Agriculture. The FFA members led students from station to station.

Andrew Cowger admitted he was surprised at how much the children knew for their age. The FFA member said: "They have a lot of fun and there's not a lot of pressure for them to learn. But they can have fun and learn at the same time."

By the session's end, Kelly student Nikki Barrentine took up the chance to get some grape seeds, and even though she doesn't live on a farm, she is going to plant them, she said.

"I just wanted them," Barrentine said, adding that it will take three years for them to grow.

Alex Davie of St. Ambrose Catholic School in Chaffee liked learning about beef the best, especially all the things cows help make, such as rubber, deodorant and perfume.

"I thought it was interesting how the wasp pollinate flowers," said Kelly student Nathaniel Chandler.

Kids spent 10 minutes at each station. Teachers and students received a goody bag full of farming information. Local companies helped with donations for the supplies and goody bags.

"It's good for the kids to see what agriculture is because it's so important," noted St. Denis Catholic School teacher Pat Moore. "Farm Day helps the kids to get an explanation of agriculture and how it affects us."