Tulpehocken hosted its 20th Agriculture Adventure for about 90-100 third graders in the district on April 25. The purpose of this trip is to allow the students to learn about where their food comes from, learn about current environmental issues and concerns, and to help meet current science standards. The PTO sponsored the transportation for the students, and the cafeteria staff provided the lunch, for the students. There were six stations, run by Sr. High Agriculture students and FFA members along with representatives from different agriculture careers that the children visited.
Station number one taught the students about recycling animal waste products for electricity. Mena Hautau, an agronomist from the Berks County Extension Service, ran the station. The students formed a circle, and held a rope. This showed them what a cycle was. Then, Hautau explained to them how methane was made. She showed them, using the cycle they formed, that all energy starts from the sun. From there, it goes to the plants, which are then eaten by a cow. The plants go into the cow’s stomach where microorganisms eat the plants. Then, the plants are excreted and the waste is decomposed to make methane. Some of this waste is also used to make bedding for the cows.
Station number two taught the children about animals. Dr. Terri Kohn, a food animal veterinarian, and Ralph Moyer, the owner of the farm, ran this station. Dr. Kohn explained to the children about dairy cows, from their babies to their health. The children learned about the different tools that Dr. Kohn used in order to care for the cow. Moyer explained to the children about the dairy cows including how they are fed and how much milk they produce per day. One interesting tidbit of information he gave to the children was that each cow had a small machine, attached to their ear that monitored how long they chew every day, which is 500 minutes.
Station number three taught the children about beef cows. The PA Beef Council ran this station. The children learned about the beef that they ate in their hamburgers for lunch. The three main nutrients that were specified in beef are zinc, iron, and protein. The PA Beef Council taught the children that the beef cows ate a diet of mainly grass, but are given supplements during the winter. They used a number of fun interactive games that kept the kids excited to learn.
Station number four taught the children about gardening. The Berks County Master Gardeners ran this station. The children were given the opportunity to plant different kinds of vegetables in the garden, like potatoes, so they can learn about where their food comes from. This summer, Sr. High Agriculture students and FFA members will be caring for the garden and the vegetables grown will be used in school lunches.
Station number five was all about water. Christine Esterline, an Agriculture Conservative Technician from the Berks County Conservation District, ran the station. Enviroscapes were used to show the students about the Pennsylvania watersheds. From there, the students learned about pollution and how they can prevent it. The students also got to test pond water for its ph.
Station number six also taught the students about beef. The kids learned about the diet of the animals and played a game of Jeopardy to test their knowledge.
The third graders left this Agriculture Adventure with tree seedlings, pencils, and new information on where their food comes from and how incredible nature is.