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Kid's Ag Day: Longtime event brings message to area students
barton county ag day
Conservation technicians Dan Frieb, Barton County, left, and Cody Tuzicka, Pawnee County, bring their annual message on soil conservation to a group of fourth-grade students at the Diamond K farm west of Great Bend on Wednesday. The annual event, spearheaded by the Great Bend Chamber Agriculture Committee, has enlisted the help of dozens of local businesses and organizations to share their expertise on a variety of ag topics for more than 25 years. - photo by Michael Gilmore

It’s been going on so long, Dan Frieb had to resort to counting on his fingers. 

“I’ve been doing this for about 25 years, and I think that we’ve been coming out to the farm for about 20, so it’s been a while,” Frieb recalled.

“You’re about retirement age,” quipped his assistant, Cody Tuzicka, who has been involved for about the last five years. “That’s true,” Frieb admitted.

Frieb, a technician for Barton County’s state Kansas Natural Resources department and Tuzicka, from the Pawnee County office, were talking about Barton County Ag Day. For more than 25 years, Ag Day has delivered its message to area fourth graders. This year, Ag Day took place on Wednesday at the Diamond K Farm west of Great Bend, a traditional spot to talk about how plants protect the soil from erosion.

In the morning, students sat on hay bales under a shade tree for Frieb’s presentation, or gathered around a table to hear about bees; they watched a demonstration on shoeing horses or listened to Barton County Family & Consumer Science Agent Donna Krug explain the importance of food groups with the help of a giant cloth cheeseburger at her station.

Each session lasted about 15 minutes in a rotation format, long enough to teach each small group for about 400 students in all.

At noon, after each group had been through most of the stations, the students gathered in the barn for a hamburger lunch.

Each year, the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee spends hours recruiting local residents involved in agriculture for a half-day of presentations that range from a petting zoo to The Cowboy Way (cattle management); nutrition; machinery and fertilizer application. Students can board a flatbed trailer for hayride trips out to the field to see crops first-hand.

The goal, as always, is to expose children to agriculture and increase their understanding, Frieb said. “Some of us have been doing this a long time, but each year there are a lot of fresh new faces. We may not talk long, but I like to think that most of the kids get it.

“And that’s the point.”