How many kids know the difference between a heifer and a cow?
That might be an easy one for kids raised on a farm, but for everybody else, it's not such common knowledge. Thanks to Ag-In-The-Classroom, though, hundreds of kids from the Detroit Lakes area can now explain that difference, plus lots of other farm-related concepts, facts and safety tips.
Held at M-State earlier this week, March 11-12, Ag-In-The-Classroom gave local elementary school students the chance to learn about agricultural practices first-hand from local farmers, and to interact with some live farm animals.
"We definitely get a lot of unique questions and comments on the animals," said Alyssa Mitchell, of the Detroit Lakes FFA, which provides the animals for Ag-In-The-Classroom every year. "Like, one of the kids today thought my heifer was a horse. And they learned that the heifer is not a cow, because she has not had a calf yet."
So that's the difference between a heifer and a cow - a heifer is a female that has not yet had a calf; she becomes a cow after her first calf is born. The kids also learned about goats, sheep, chickens and other animals commonly found around the farm.
While that was going on outside, inside, students were learning about beef and dairy farming practices, grains and sugar beets, soils, turkeys, pigs, machinery and farm safety. The informational sessions lasted about 20 minutes each and were led by more than 20 local volunteers from area farms and agricultural agencies.
Students from Roosevelt, Rossman, Holy Rosary and Lake Park-Audubon elementary schools all took part.
"It's phenomenal," said Shelly Gilson, a fourth grade teacher at Rossman, of Ag-In-The-Classroom. "The kids always learn something new - I always learn something new!"
Over the years, Ag-In-The-Classroom has connected thousands of area students to their agricultural roots. The program aims to improve agricultural literacy - awareness, knowledge and appreciation - among teachers and students. Organizers say the goal is to paint a complete picture of farming for the kids, so they have a better understanding of where their food comes from, and what it takes to get it to their plates.
Ag-In-The-Classroom was sponsored by the Becker County Farm Bureau, Becker County Soil and Water Conservation Office, and Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce's Agri-Business Committee.