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Connecting kids back to the farm: Ag in the Classroom brings valuable lessons to Wadena students

Students raise their hands hoping to ask farmers questions during the Ag in the Classroom event Tuesday at Memorial Auditorium. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal1 / 3
Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary winners in the Wadena County Farm Bureau coloring contest from second grade (front, from left): Karlie Geiger, Owen Danielson, and Abigail Wendt; and (back, from left): third grade: Samuel Church, Logan Seelhammer and Ava Hall. Submitted photo2 / 3
Mark Oberg shows off a drone to students at Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School Tuesday. He explained how it was part of the technology used on their farm. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal3 / 3

A United Nations report says the world population is set to reach 9.8 billion people by 2050. By then, many of today's Wadena-Deer Creek elementary students will be adults with kids of their own in elementary school.

The Wadena County Farm Bureau is hopeful that those youth will have an understanding of farms and the important role they have in feeding and clothing the world. Farm Bureau board members shared with students Tuesday at the W-DC elementary that the farmers of the world will be expected to produce nearly twice as much in 2050 to support a changing population.

Students had the chance to hear from Chris Lilliquist of Minnesota Valley Irrigation; Braden Halvorson of Midwest Machinery; Greg Jacobson of Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative; Mark Wohlert of Oberg Farms; and Dayle Reinke of Clover Leaf Farms. Topics about crops, animals and equipment of farming brought out dozens of questions from the students who were enthusiastic to answer some questions too.

Students saw that technology and techniques were changing rapidly from the use of drones in the field to new managed grazing trials. All steps to improve production and yield without expanding the footprint.

Shanna Tuinstra with the Wadena County Farm Bureau asked the students as she does in many classrooms in the county, "Where does your food come from?"

W-DC students seemed to be well prepared answering loudly that it was farmers. Tuinstra indicated that some students have answered Walmart. While it's true that is a place many shop for food, Tuinstra made an effort to inform the students that there are immense steps in getting the food from the farm to the table.

Tuinstra said they decided to come to students in Wadena as part of the Ag in the Classroom initiative because this is the 100th year of the Wadena County Farm Bureau.

"We are trying our best to talk to students, that they will know where there food comes from," Tuinstra said. Based on answers she felt more students were familiar with farms in Wadena.

She explained that many youth are now two to three generations away from a farming background, but farming is becoming more and more important.

As an added reminder, following the morning talk, students were reminded once more what farming provides when they were handed a familiar hot food item. With cheese from the dairy farmers, veggies from farmers, meat from farmers, tomato sauce from farmers and a crispy crust formed from the farmers harvest, the hot pizzas immediately registered to the students that farming has great rewards.

Wadena County Farm Bureau announces winners of coloring placement contest

Wadena County Farm Bureau organized a coloring placemat contest for Wadena-Deer Creek second- and third-grade students to celebrate their 100th anniversary. Students were asked to illustrate a picture of what farming was like 100 years ago.

Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary winners from second grade include Karlie Geiger, Owen Danielson, and Abigail Wendt; and third grade: Samuel Church, Logan Seelhammer and Ava Hall.

First-place winners received John Deere collector tractors from Midwest Machinery; second-place winners received Polman Transfer blankets; and third-place recipients won free swim passes to the Maslowski Wellness & Research Center. All winners received a Farm Bureau T-shirt.

All of the second- and third-grade placemat entries will be used for the Wadena County Farm Bureau spring banquet, said contest organizers Mike and Shanna Tuinstra.

The spring banquet is scheduled April 7 at Ted and Gen's in Aldrich.