Windsor, Colo., students learn the ABCs of agriculture
September 29, 2017
Samantha Wagnitz stood to the side of the pen with two alpacas, holding her nose with her left hand.
The 9-year-old was one of about 447 fourth graders from the Weld RE-4 School District at the third annual Food 4-Ever Agricultural Education Fair Sept. 27 at the Windsor Community Recreation Center in Windsor, Colo. The fair started four years ago with only students from Skyview Elementary School in Windsor.
Three years ago, Andy Klatt, physical education teacher at Grandview Elementary in Windsor, Kendra Jacoby, an elementary teacher from Skyview, Melinda Spaur, FFA advisor at Windsor High School, and Jarrod Bessier, former FFA advisor at Windsor, came together to make the fair a district-wide event for fourth graders.
"I have a passion for bringing agriculture into the school," Klatt said, "as it directly influences physical education, health and wellness standards, they're all impacted by each one of these presenters, and to have a panel of people from our FFA — another community element in our town that we can collaborate with and work together — is awesome."
GROWING THE SEED
Ten years ago Spaur began her time as the Windsor High School FFA advisor, and the interest in the agriculture education program has grown exponentially since then.
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This year's group of freshman came in with a large interest, and she expects that trend to continue. Four years ago, part of the freshman class were fifth graders at Skyview Elementary the first year the program was held — at the time it was for kindergarten through fifth grade at Skyview only.
Each session was 15 minutes long, but the purpose was to give the kids a foundation. That way, Jacoby said, teachers can build onto the multiple topics the students were exposed to.
Spaur said some of this year's freshmen have referred to things they learned at the fair four years ago. It still resonates with them.
Klatt's involvement with agriculture in the school started after he took a class through the Colorado Foundation of Agriculture, which teaches educators how connected people are to agriculture.
Fourth grade was the target because Colorado history is part of the grade's curriculum. So they're learning in a different environment from people who actually work in the industry, rather than in a classroom.
There were 27 presenters who taught a range of topics, from chickens to irrigation and from compost to rodeo. The common thread was agriculture; Spaur said it's important to have a lot of different industries represented.
Plus in Windsor, agriculture is a foundation. According to the American Farm Bureau, only 2 percent of Americans are farmers or ranchers, with most people three generations removed from living or working on a farm.
That's another reason Klatt, Jacoby and Spaur continue the fair. It relinks people to the ag industry.
In the fair's setting, the kids can talk to experts in the field, like Michelle Dalpra of Eaton, Colo.
She brought the two alpacas that caused Wagnitz to plug her nose. Dalpra's family raises the alpacas for shows. She told the students about the alpaca industry.
Wagnitz removed her left hand from her nose twice. Both times to ask questions, one being: "Do all female alpacas get pregnant?"
When she had food pellets for the alpacas, she extended her right hand into the pen. Her left one was back holding her nose. ❖
— Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. Contact her with story ideas, questions or comments at (970) 392-4410, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.