For Woodstock students, a day on the farm
Hundreds of Woodstock School District 200 third- and fourth-graders took part in the McHenry County Farm Bureau’s Ag Expo last week.
One of the largest events for the farm bureau, the expo is held every other year at the McHenry County Fairgrounds. The day features 20 topics explained by farmers and other experts. Students make their way as a group through the stations, in total spending about two hours at the expo.
This year, 111 classes throughout the county were registered for the event and more than 40,000 students have taken part in the expo since its inception in 1988.
“I think it’s amazing,” said Crystal Christensen, a third-grade teacher at Olson Elementary School. She said it’s important for her students and herself to better understand the importance of agriculture.
Kyla Grismer, a student in Christensen’s class, said she was most excited to see the horses.
“They’re really big, and I didn’t know a lot about them,” she said. She said it was fun to learn about their diet, especially since she and the horses eat some of the same things, such as carrots and greens.
Cynthia Maddock, a Marengo farmer, and her children who help out on the farm, were at the expo to present goats.
“This is our first time [doing this] but I think it’s great,” she said. “For some of the kids, they do not have the opportunity to be around [farm life]. Some hadn’t even seen a goat.”
Amanda Harmer, District 200 career facilitator, said she was amazed at how well the presenters and the material were able to keep the students’ attention.
“They’re running to the next station to see who can get in the front row,” she said, noting that many students brought cameras to snap pictures of the animals.
Having the expo right in the Woodstock community is a huge plus to the school district, Harmer said. She said it is a relatively inexpensive way for the students to gain up-close experience with agriculture.
Chelsea Watkins, a student at Woodstock North High School, served as a volunteer during the event and has career aspirations to work in agriculture. Watkins currently lives with her family on a dairy farm.
“I saw this and knew I wanted to volunteer,” she said, noting that although she knows a bit about farming herself, the expo has taught her even more. “I’ve learned a lot, especially with the soybean and corn [topics].”
In addition to Watkins, the farm bureau recruited dozens of volunteers from the county to serve as group leaders and bus parkers.
Jerry Draffkorn was volunteering as a group leader for his second Ag Expo. He said he enjoys seeing the children excited about farming and always learns a thing or two himself.
“The kids always like the animals,” he said, noting the teachers and volunteers seem just as excited. “You don’t see anybody without a smile on their face.”
For information about the McHenry County Farm Bureau, call 815-338-1520.