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Fourth graders visit farm for Kids Ag Day
ag horseshoes-Main
Girls from Great Bend Jefferson Elementary School examine horseshoes, Wednesday at Kids Ag Day. This was the 21st year for Barton County fourth graders to experience a day on a working farm. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

A tradition of two decades continued Wednesday with when fourth graders attended Barton County’s 21st Kids Ag Day.
For the final time, Ag Day was held at the Roger Brining Farm west of Great Bend. Brining died June 8 in an airplane crash, but the family continued with plans for the September event, said Ron Koelsch, one of the event organizers. Koelsch’s farm has also been the Kids Ag Day venue in previous years.
“The Brining family is very supporting of keeping this going, and we’re very appreciative of it,” Koelsch said, adding he expects Kids Ag Day will continue for many years.
“It’s a good experience,” he said. It was created by a Great Bend Chamber of Commerce committee to increase the “agricultural literacy” of children in Barton County. The goal is to raise awareness of where food comes from — before the grocery store or fast food restaurant.

“I think sometimes the adults learn just as much as the kids,” Koelsch commented. “We’ve got a good group of people from the Great Bend Chamber making this happen, and a lot of volunteers from all the communities.”

T.R. Esfeld, wearing chaps and twirling his lasso, talked to the children about “Cowboy Ways,” a demonstration he has given now for many years. “We still use horses to check windmills and ... rope calves,” he said. But make no mistake, cattle ranching is big business, and these days may require modern tools such as the telephone or Internet. There’s a lot of paperwork, but that helps insure the safety and consistency of the meat sold in stores and restaurants. His operation handles between 3,000 and 5,000 cattle each year. “We do business is about six to seven different states, and a couple of foreign countries,” he added.

Esfeld wasn’t the only one with horses. Michael Burnham passed around horseshoes and shoed a horse for his demonstration. As he introduced one group of fourth graders to a mare named Claudia, Burnham said it was her 18th Kids Ag Day — and his, too.

Bruce Swob presented a demonstration on beekeeping. Their numbers are decreasing, he noted, but bees are important for our own survival. Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” And even though Einstein probably never said that, it illustrates their importance.

Roger Long and Ron Miessler showed the children several types of grain and some products made from them. Holding up a soybean plant, Long said, “this we can make into a lot of stuff,” including soy milk and the ink used to print the Great Bend Tribune.
There were also farm tours via hayracks, a petting zoo overseen by Great Bend and Ellinwood high school students from the FFA clubs, and “ag trivia.”