Friends on the Farm educates kids about agriculture
By RACHAEL GRAY
Most students in southwest Kansas have seen tractors and combines, and some have been in them.
But few had climbed inside of a sprayer before Friday's Friends on the Farm, an agriculture exhibition for fourth-graders in Finney, Haskell and Gray counties.
Ali Kells, a fourth-grader from Sublette, said she had been in most types of farm equipment because her dad owns a farm.
But some information presented Friday was new to Kells.
"I didn't know cow intestines were used for mouthwash and deodorant," she said.
Cattle products also are in toothpaste, the students learned.
"I'm not brushing my teeth anymore," said Brice Williamson, 10, Sublette.
Kennedy Wilcox, 10, Sublette, said she learned that corn products are used in a lot of substances.
"Even in pickle juice," she said.
Rosie DelaRosa, 9, Sublette, lives at Cattle Empire 1.
"My stepdad helps people a lot. So I've been on tractors and combines," she said.
Russell Komlofske, a Holcomb farmer, is on the Finney County Farm Bureau Board. He was one of the board members who 14 years ago decided to create an educational day for fourth-graders.
The purpose of the program is to provide information and hands-on learning about the value of Kansas agriculture, and how it benefits and affects their daily lives, according to a release on the event.
"We really wanted to educate fourth-graders on the fact that food doesn't come from the store, it comes from a variety of places," Komlofske said.
Many of those places include farms, ranches and feedyards in southwest Kansas, Komlofske said.
"Many students think milk comes from the shelf, or wheat comes from the shelf," he said. "We want to teach them that those things come from farm families around here."
Komlofske said even though these students live in a rural, agricultural-rich area, many of them don't know about agriculture.
He also said agricultural practices are often inaccurate or misinterpreted in the media, and at the highest levels of government.
"At least we're changing that ignorance to education, and at a young age for these students," he said.
Komlofske and other representatives visited classrooms a week prior to the show, to talk to the students about what they would see.
"I'm a familiar face they can know and trust. And what they're learning here — it's all facts," he said.
Komlofske said educating the students is important.
"Today alone, we've reached almost 750 kids. That's 750 kids who will know the facts about agriculture," he said.
The goal of the exhibit is to help students understand that farmers are their friends and are good stewards of the land, water and air as they produce the safest food supply possible, the release said.
"We care a lot about animals and the land — that's our source of income, and we take care of them," Komlofske said.
Centers for the field trip included exhibits on wheat, dairy, soybeans/biodiesel, honeybees, beef byproducts, cotton, corn, embryology, tractors, meats and crop spraying services. Those educating the fourth-graders included representatives from Garden City High School FFA, Holcomb FFA, Kansas Soybean Commission and Association, extension agents, Kansas Cattle Women, Haskell County Farm Bureau, Pioneer, American Implement and the GCCC Collegiate Farm Bureau Chapter.