8th Graders, Conservation, and Agriculture

Mrs. Hogan and a few of her students, headed out to test water quality on her farm.

They have more in common than you may think.  🙂  Really.

This past week I had the opportunity to participate in Mrs. Hogan’s 8th grade Conservation Field Day.  It was such an awesome, educational day.  I had a great time hanging out with 70-some 8th graders at Mrs. Hogan’s farm and listening to several different presentations about soil and water conservation.  There were representatives from the NRCS, a crop input company, the conservation station, and a naturalist from the DNR.

Al tossed foods, like yogurt, bananas, and granola bars out to the kids to demonstrate how fertilizer is like food for the soil.

It was a a crisp fall day, a gorgeous day for a field trip.  The bus full of kids rolled in and our first presentation was from Al, a salesman from crop input company.  He told us all about fertilizer and what it means to cropland and why we use it.  He had an interesting analogy to compare N (nitrogen) P (potassium) and K (phosphorous), the three main essential nutrients for the soil  to essential nutrients we need for our bodies.  N is protein, P is carbohydrate, and K is fat.  He had a ton of interesting facts about the nutrients present in our soils and how we must maintain and preserve them.

Surprisingly, no one got pushed into the stream. I was impressed by the good behavior of these kids on this beautiful day.

After Al’s presentation, the kids broke into 3 groups to rotate through 3 sessions.  I was assigned to help supervise a group; our first session included a hay ride down to the small stream that ran through the back of John and Margaret’s farm.  On the ride, Mrs. Hogan distributed various water testing kits and equipment amongst the kids.  When we arrived, they set to work testing the water for various nutrients and other factors.  I was impressed with how well they got down to business and assessed the stream.

The Conservation Station was an awesome educational experience!

This display at the Conservation Station was incredibly interesting, demonstrating the effects of soil runoff and how management of the soil affects it.

Our next stop was the Conservation Station.  This traveling exhibit was abosultely fascinating.  First, the kids got a chance to “own” and develop a piece of land in a watershed.  Then they discussed how their use of the land would affect water quality and what they could do to preserve it.  Then, we moved to a display of different soil preservation techniques and how they are affected by rainfall runoff.  The Conservation Station is sponsored by several different organizations across the state.  I highly encourage you to click on the link and check out it’s schedule of appearances, if you are able, you will get a lot out of seeing this display in person.   The presenters did an awesome job of providing factual information to the students about soil conservation and erosion.

Finally, the group got to learn about soil sampling techniques, and what sort of things farmers test their soil for.  Crop Production Services, a local agronomy company, was on hand with their soil sampling equipment, and the kids got a chance to take a soil sample and discuss the importance of caring for the soil.  (I missed out on this particular session, as it was part of my duties for the day to get lunch ready.)

A naturalist from the Swiss Valley Nature center brought a bunch of furs from native Iowa critters.

We had a nice lunch of ham sandwiches, chips, ice cream, milk, and cookies.  And afterwards, we listened to a naturalist with the Swiss Valley Nature Center.  She told us all about the way Iowa looked before it was settled, and what sort of animals lived here (and still do today.)  She brought a wealth of knowledge and a bunch of furs to show the kids.  I can’t wait to take my kids to the nature center some day!

The day wrapped up with each kid getting a t-shirt from the Conservation Station.  It was such a fun and educational day, I was honored to be a part of it!!  Margaret did an awesome job of putting together a balanced group of experts to educate her students about soil and water stewardship.  I’m certain her students gained knowledge they will appreciate for the rest of their lives.

If you want to see more pictures from my day, click here to view my Facebook album.  


4 responses to this post.

  1. Liz, this is great! We’d love to use as a guest blog on FarmFresh. Just let me know…

  2. You’re still doing a great job with your blog. Really good stuff.

  3. Sounds like I could have learned something from this field day. I agree the run off part looks really interesting.

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