One thing I really like to do is talk to school kids!
North Central Iowa Ag in the Classroom, is one of my favorite ways to tell about how I farm, but it specializes in grade school kids with the fairly basic ways we farm and why.
Another opportunity I have to talk to students is through the National Pork Board’s Operation Main Street. On a career day at Clarion-Goldfield-Dows High School this week, I was able to do just that. Nine different classes, four different grades all came through my assigned room on that day. My area was general ag and swine. It became apparent, very early in the day, that a lot of these kids did not have much interest in farming as a career! I normally have tons of questions- – today, not so much!! More like none! It was going to be a long day! Did I mention NINE sessions?! But what an incredible opportunity when I realized they were interested in how and why I farm.
With these high school young adults, I could talk about more complex issues. There were many that were interested in an ag career. We talked about conservation, elected officials, communication skills……….and my favorite-government regulations.
Just this month, California voted in new regulations telling me and my neighbors how to raise my livestock. People that have never been on a farm, telling me how to farm! I asked each group how many lived on a farm. I received many comments about their grandparent’s farm, or an uncle’s farm, or even one young lady that lived on a farm but couldn’t tell me what they grew.
I explained what this new regulation required, and why these non-farm people thought it was a great deal for animals. The non-farm kids in my classes had the same ideas; that the animals should be able to run around outside in the sunshine on beautiful green grass and go wherever they wanted. We talked about Old McDonalds Farm and Charlotte’s Webb. Unfortunately, modern-day propaganda comes from anti-farming groups.
Then we talked about Iowa weather. The winter days with minus zero temperatures. We talked about nasty thunderstorms and lighting. We talked about predators like raccoons and coyotes. We talked about why I, as a pig farmer, started raising white pigs because they are leaner, which is what dietary concerns told us we should raise. I explained how these white lean pigs had no insulation to keep them warm, in the sub-zero weather. How when they laid outside in the summer sun, they turned red with a sunburn……….and pigs can’t sweat! We talked about modern pig barns, and that is when we talked about careers in general ag!
I’m thinking this turned into quite a good day, with many opportunities to share with future consumers, and future voters about how and why I farm! I enjoyed my day at school!