West Branch third-grade students were given a behind-the-scenes look at agriculture during an annual field trip in May, hosted at local farms in partnership with the district high school’s Professional Agriculture Program.
The Farm Field Trip is a partnership between West Branch High School’s Professional Agriculture Program and local farms that began 30 years ago with Kevin Martig of Martig Farms, who was then a sophomore in the Farm Program of West Branch.
“Kids have to go out and see a farm,” Kevin Martig said. “They need to know where their food comes from.”
The field trip gave the youth the opportunity to interact with high school students from the district’s professional agriculture courses as they visited two farms in Beloit, Ohio, Martig Farms and Conny Farms, and toured the hall high school agriculture.
In the agriculture room, the students got their hands dirty by planting their own flower to take home.
At Conny Farms, West Branch agriculture students led the third-year groups through the farm where they talked about grain farming and got to see horses, goats and even long-horned cattle.
Local representatives from other agricultural support services led some of the student tour groups through Martig Farms.
Mary Fannin of Farm Credit and Brian Beck of Witmer’s Feed and Grain answered student questions and shared their industry knowledge while guiding students through the many stops within Martig’s dairy and bird seed operations.
“Most of these kids — even if they’re from a farming community — don’t get to get that close,” said Fannin, who led some of the third-grade groups during the tour at Martig Farms.
The students learned about dairy cows – including silage and the fact that cows have four stomachs – as they walked through the barn where the dairy cows are housed.
Beck told students how he uses math to calculate the feed needed by Martigs cows – projecting what they need, keeping track of what they have and helping formulate feeds based on nutritional needs. segments of the herd. At the milking parlour, students learned about the journey of milk through the milking parlor — from the cow, through cooling equipment and into a truck for transport to a processing facility.
The students had the opportunity to taste some of the finished products, including milk and cheese sticks from Turner Dairy and ice cream provided by Columbiana County Dairy Boosters.
(Information submitted by Virginia Molnar, West Branch School District.)
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