Playing in the hay
Spending a beautiful fall Friday outside is the dream of many kids stuck in school.
For two groups of Columbus Elementary students, this dream became a reality last week thanks to some local Future Farmers of America members.
At a farm a couple miles west of Columbus, the Columbus High School FFA chapter held its annual Farm Day to teach younger students about various facets of the ag industry.
Seventeen FFA members either worked at stations they created and gave presentations to the children, or acted as group leaders to escort the kids around the area and answer any questions.
The first group to arrive were second graders.
They had the opportunity to try their hand at roping, hear about agricultural ties to local businesses through a game of BINGO, visit up close and personal with some farm animals, and learn about 4-wheeler safety, tools, and farm machinery.
What was a basic introduction for the second graders morphed into a more in-depth discussion with the fifth graders.
The high school students created lesson plans and quiz questions for the older group to ensure the presentations met the learning objectives they set for their station.
The goal of the day was to familiarize the younger students with the agriculture industry and some potential careers.
FFA Advisor and high school teacher Daniel Miller reminded the kids of the importance of agriculture to the country, and particularly to our neck of the woods, saying one in four Montanans has a job that is related to agriculture in some way.
While fifth graders are still many years away from choosing a career, Miller said it’s good to get some potential opportunities on the radar of younger students, too.
Farm Day has been a FFA activity for about eight years, according to Miller. Some of the high school presenters at this year’s Farm Day remember attending when they were in elementary school.
FFA President Jessly Howard and member Grace Stadel both said their favorite part of Farm Day is to interact with kids from all different backgrounds, seeing how familiar the kids are to the topics going into the day and what they learned while at the farm.
Freshman Sean Jacobson, a presenter at the second grade roping station said he enjoys teaching the kids about something he cares about as a rodeo team roper.
He remembers learning how to rope as a young boy, so he is happy to continue the tradition and introduce roping to other kids.
The FFA members have some exciting events coming up.
A group of six juniors and seniors, along with Miller, will drive to Indianapolis in a couple of weeks to attend the FFA National Convention.
The trip and four-day convention will include various tours and sessions. Howard mentioned that the keynote speaker on the first night is Laila Ali, the daughter of boxing great Mohammad Ali.
In the beginning of November, a larger group of FFA members will travel to the John Deere Ag Expo in Bozeman, a conference several members are already looking forward to.