Students experience Field to Table journey

Students experience Field to Table journey For two days, the Coffee Cup, at I-29 and Hwy. 50, was abuzz as busses unloaded area students for an adventure in the Field to Table Classroom. Waves of students ventured into the fields where they were rotated through nine educational stations prepared by Ray Hall, local Extension educators, volunteers and ag industry professionals.

Among the corn and soybeans, students learned of an amazing journey that crops take from planting, though harvest and all the way until they make their way from the "field to the table."

At the edge of the soybean field, students learned about the growth and development of soybeans from the time they are planted as a seed until they are ready to harvest. Once students completed this station they moved around the corner and learned about the hundreds of different soybean uses. Students even got to sample fresh soybean and roasted soy nut snacks called "Peanotz."

While some students were learning about soybeans, others were learning about the size of an acre and how crops are measured for harvest and sale. Still others were enjoying a snack of locally grown popcorn and watching it pop right on the cob.

In the corn fields, students learned about how corn grows from a tiny seed to the 8 to 10 foot tall plants that were right beside them. Students also learned that not all corn is the same. On a board display, students could see the differences between field corn, sweet corn, pop corn and broom corn. They also got to see all types of "Indian" or ornamental corn that can be grown.

An exciting part of the classroom experience is being able to walk into the corn field where an educational classroom had been cut out. Inside the corn classroom students learned about the various uses of corn. Students were surprised to learn that there are more than 3,500 different uses for corn products and new uses are being found every day.

Also on site for the students were several pieces of farm equipment. One stop for the students was a modern combine and an old fashion corn sheller. Teachers were challenged to see if they could shell corn off the cob the old fashioneded way. Students learned how technology has changed over the years but is still based on the same principles. A field planter was also on site and students got to see how over the years planting has become more precision based.

Students even got to use their math skills and learned about the economics of farming. The wheat/oat station explored how much a farmer gets paid for his bushel of wheat, how much bread could be made from that bushel and how much that bread could be sold for. Then students learned the economics of farming by following the food system from the farmer to the grocer.

The Field to Table Classroom is in its fourth year now thanks to Ray Hall and his family. With only about two or three of 25 students living on farms these days there is a lot for them to learn. This project offers a unique learning opportunity that allows students to get a first hand look at how our local crops are grown and what happens to them from the field to the table.

In 2004, participating schools included Jolley Elementary, St. Agnes, Gayville-Volin, Centerville Elementary, Akron-Westfield Community, Beresford Elementary, and Dakota Valley Elementary. Approximately 425 students, teachers and chaperones attended the 2004 Field to Table Classroom.

Field to Table Consumers Night was also held one evening and allowed local residents to experience the same classroom activities that the students had. Some of the students were so excited about what they had learned during the day that they returned to share their experience with their parents and families.

Sponsors of the event and for Consumers Night were: Ray Hall Family, Clay, Union and Yankton Cooperative Extension Service, First Dakota National Bank, Plains Ag Services � Vermillion and Meckling, Clay County Farm Bureau, Chesterman Co., Jones Food, Peanotz, Inc., Community First Bank, Clay Rural Water, Vermillion Medical Clinic, Craig Myron � Ag Opportunities, Gary Mechtenberg, Chuck Roegiers, South Dakota Soybean Council, South Dakota Corn Utilization Council, South Dakota Soybean Association, South Dakota Wheat Commission, and the South Dakota Corn Growers Association.

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