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Instilling an 'attitude of gratitude' -- Area students welcomed by DSU Ag Club to Kids Day on the Farm

Dickinson State Univeristy's Agriculture Club welcomed area students in third grade and lower, along with their teachers, relatives and friends, to the 2019 Kids Day on the Farm.

Wide-eyed children with Redeemer Lutheran Church Preschool get up-close and personal with farm animals during the annual Kids Day on the Farm, sponsored by DSU Ag Club. James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press
Wide-eyed children with Redeemer Lutheran Church Preschool get up-close and personal with farm animals during the annual Kids Day on the Farm, sponsored by DSU Ag Club. James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press

Dickinson State Univeristy's Agriculture Club welcomed area students in third grade and lower, along with their teachers, relatives and friends, to the 2019 Kids Day on the Farm.

"For many children, food comes from the grocery store. That's where milk comes from, that's where vegetables come from, that's where meat and cheese, you name it," said Chip Poland, chair of the department of agriculture and technical studies at Dickinson State University. "This event provides them an opportunity to see that food comes from the animals they see here, the grains they see, etc. Hopefully they gain a better appreciation that there is something before the grocery store, and as they get older they can begin to ask questions."

From a barnyard petting zoo and wagon rides to roping lessons and milk and cookies, children participated in events designed to instill an appreciation for agriculture and provide teachers with a way to make their curriculum come alive.

The DSU Ag Club has hosted Kids Day on the Farm every year since their founding, and has continued to ensure that the event remains free to attend.

Thursday morning saw the DSU Ag arena, adjacent to the Biesiot Activities Center on State Ave., turned into an interactive classroom with lessons on branding, animal husbandry and nutrition education through hands-on lessons accompanying the various crops on display.

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"These young minds today will be the ones asking the big questions for agriculture in the future," Poland said. "Agriculture welcomes those questions, and programs like these will instill an attitude of gratitude and understanding that will foster the minds that will ask those important questions in the future."

Opportunities like Kids Day on the Farm are a growing necessity for children as farm and ranch families have dwindled to less than 2% of the U.S. population, according to American Farm Bureau Federation.

"This is the 29th year that DSU's Agriculture Club has put on this event, in addition to our other events which are aimed at teaching kids about agriculture," Poland said. "Programs like this one gives our students a chance to wrestle with how best to present this kind of material to a 3-year-old or a third grader and have that child and parent walk away with an appreciation and understanding for it."

For DSU Agriculture Club members, sponsoring and coordinating an event like Kids Day on the Farm presents them with the unique opportunity to mentor and teach children about agriculture with a hands-on approach.

"We really want to illustrate what farms do, what they have and where the products come from," said Michelle Fitterer, vice president of the DSU Ag Club. "We want to expose children to different elements of agriculture that they may never see in their day-to-day life if they didn't come to this. Really, it's just a great opportunity to get agriculture out there and inspire the future of the industry."

Fitterer shifted credit away from the hard work of the Ag Club and instead shared the club's appreciation for alumni whom she said were instrumental in programs like these.

"We have an awesome family, the Krebs from Gladstone, who bring in all the animals each year. We go out and help round them up in the morning and bring them out here and then take them back," Fitterer said. "Our team horses are provided by alumni of DSU and the Ag Club who really enjoy coming out and getting to work their horses. If it weren't for the continued support of our alumni, events like these wouldn't be possible."

Area teachers, evoking the cowboys of old as they shepherd their flocks of children, spent the day guiding preschool and elementary students through the various stations.

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"A lot of these students have never seen a real live animal and to learn where their food comes from. Growing up on a farm, I took it for granted, but programs like this are vital to our students," Jolene Gress, first grade teacher at Heart River Elementary, said. "Hands-on education is always the best. Our students today are getting to experience the smells, the sights and touch animals and crops."

Gress added, "There's no better way to learn than to see and touch."

Related Topics: DICKINSON STATE UNIVERSITY
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