If you could visit Kathy Wilke's fifth grade classroom at Randolph Public School, you would see agriculture concepts on the bulletin board, students using a Smart Board to take a virtual trip to the farm and perhaps a community leader showing a core sample of soil from the playground. Kathy incorporates agriculture throughout the school year in all the basic subject areas.
In the fall, the local FFA Chapter presents the students with a resource on Farm Safety. This is not just for students that live on a farm, but for urban students when they take a field trip to a farm. The FFA students also help the fifth graders decorate grocery bags with farm scenes or farm safety messages to be placed in the stores to help consumers be aware of agriculture in their community.
A Resource Soil Scientist speaks to the students about different kinds of soil, causes of erosion and farming techniques to control erosion. The next step is for the fifth graders to stimulate erosion on soil. They use paint trays of soil to show how water, wind and ice can move soil by using a spray bottle with water, hair dryer and ice cubes. How do you stop erosion? Try planting grass seed on the soil.
To help the students understand the Nebraska aquifer they constructed "edible aquifers." This showed the process of how well water can be affected by drought and pollution. To further understand the water system, a field trip was planned to visit the local water treatment plant. Students were able to see first-hand how water and sewage is processed. In each of Kathy's lessons, the students always had a hands-on activity, community leader or a field trip to help them understand a science and agriculture concept.
Kathy would always emphasize to her students that they must make good decisions about the use of the water and land, because of its importance to our food system. "Each individual is responsible for their choices that can affect the quality of life for everyone and each one of us must be good stewards of our natural resources," Kathy tells her students.