They may not all be future farmers, but today’s fourth graders are already consumers of products grown by Kansas farmers and ranchers. On Wednesday, Barton County’s fourth graders were invited to spend a day on the Roger Brining farm west of Great Bend to learn more about agriculture.
Kids Ag Day is organized every year by the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce’s Ag Committee. Children ride on hayracks pulled by tractors as they visit demonstration stations and speakers. Each stop in the rotation offers a lesson about farming and ranching.
T.R. Esfeld, wearing a cowboy hat and chaps, talked about “cowboy ways.” But he wasn’t talking about the romantic cowboys of the Old West; he was talking about raising calves until they reach the ideal weight for “harvesting” their meat.
“When you get a hamburger from McDonald’s or wherever, you want it to taste the same every time,” he said. The goal of cattle producers is to provide a safe, uniform product.
At another stop, students viewed and handled crops – stalks of corn, milo and sunflowers – as Jeff Mauler and Michael Bahr talked about some of the products made from them.
“Part of your house could be made out of milo,” Mauler said, holding up a piece of Sheetrock. Grain sorghum – another name for milo – can also be found in pet food.
FFA students ran a petting zoo, with baby pigs and other animals, and Barton Community College agriculture instructor Vic Martin was back with his “Ag Trivia” tent. The children said their favorite demonstrations included watching a horse being shoed and Midwest Energy’s electric safety show. They also enjoyed talking to a crop duster and a bee keeper.
“Is there really such a thing as a killer bee?” one student wanted to know.
“Killer bee” is a nickname for Africanized honey bees – American bees that have crossbred with the more aggressive species, said Great Bend bee expert Bruce Swob. They are aggressive, but not the swarming killers depicted in horror movies. (They also haven’t come as far north as Kansas, but exist in southern states, his brother Greg said.)
Kids Ag Day was created to teach children something about the huge role agriculture plays in Barton County’s economy. By the time they sat down to eat a hamburger or hotdog for lunch, perhaps they had a great appreciation for the work that went into it. Ag Committee Chairman David LeRoy said he expected about 350 people to take part in the day.