JACKSON, NEB. – More than 300 fifth graders from Northeast Nebraska gained firsthand experience on where their food, fiber, and fuel come from by attending the first ever Growing Potential Ag Festival in Jackson, Neb., on August 24.
The festival was put together by the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation and the Northeast Corn Growers Association, with more than 15 sponsors coming together to help put on the successful event. FFA Chapters from Pender and Wisner also volunteered at the event.
“With both of our organizations having an interest in agriculture and our next generation of leaders, we thought it would be a great idea to offer an event for local kids to learn about Nebraska’s number one industry,” said Courtney Schaardt, director of education outreach. “At the Foundation, we engage youth and share how important agriculture is to them and to the state of Nebraska.”
Students made their way around eight learning stations that covered different aspects of agriculture. At one station, the fifth graders discovered the process of planting and harvesting by getting an up-close look at a planter and combine with experts from Pender Implement Company showing students how the equipment works. Other activities included learning about the different parts of a corn plant, discovering potential careers in the ethanol industry, and seeing how farmers take care of the land through water management.
“It’s a very powerful thing and why we wanted to get students out here, because we knew that there would be so many different aspects of modern agricultural techniques our students could experience,” Nicholas Kleve, fifth-grade teacher from Lewis and Clark Elementary in South Sioux City, said. “It’s great to have my students see the behind the scenes of where their food comes from and how it gets to the grocery store. It just creates opportunities and curiosity that maybe they could have a career in agriculture.”
Information about the new one-day festival hit teachers’ mailboxes this spring, and available classroom spaces filled up within a day. Schools participated from towns across Northeast Nebraska including South Sioux City, Wisner, Ponca, Homer, Emerson, Laurel-Concord, and Hartington.
“We are so excited that these kids had such a great time today,” said Taylor Nelson, a member of the Northeast Corn Growers Association. “It was great to see all of these agriculture groups join together to teach their communities about all of the aspects of agriculture. We thank them for sharing their time and their resources,” he continued.
Sponsors and volunteers include American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), Siouxland Ethanol, Pender Implement Company, CHS, Dekalb, Producers Hybrids, Croplan, Stine, DynaGrow, Pioneer, Sietec, Mycogen, Allegiant, Channel, Dixon County Farm Bureau, Keiser Ag and Irrigation, Lux Brothers Inc., and FFA Chapters from Pender and Wisner.
The mission of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is to engage youth, educators, and the general public to promote an understanding of the vital importance of agriculture in the lives of all Nebraskans. The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. For more information about the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, visit www.nefbfoundation.org.