Sunday, May 29, 2011

Farmer Joe Goes to Kindergarten

My husband was a high school agriculture teacher, and and an FFA sponsor. He then became a state supervisor, helping agriculture teachers in his territory be better educators. His next endeavor was to work for a national agriculture education consulting company, working with state departments of agriculture across the country to set up quality programs and train teachers on testing and curriculum software he helped to develop. He traveled abroad with an agriculture leadership group, learning about the global marketplace and presenting to other leaders about the benefits and processes of American agriculture.

Can you tell I'm proud of him? Can you tell he's kind of a big deal?

Well...this big deal dude is now a farmer, full time, and a dad, and was also a NERVOUS WRECK when he was readying himself for his presentation to Anna's kindergarten class during career week! It was pretty funny, actually. He has presented to some of the biggest names in American agriculture, and was pacing his office and surfing the Internet for the perfect activity for Anna's class.

I was called in to intervene, because I didn't have anything else to know, just a newborn, a 23 month old, and a preschooler all at home that day...because Joe was struggling to find the "right" picture of a beef cow. Joe wanted to share some of the processes of being a cattle farmer, and the one that Anna really likes is the process of ear-tagging. It's like ear piercing, and it even comes with fun equipment. Joe had prepared an ear tag for every kid, with each of their names on it, and now he needed a picture of a beef cow to "pierce" with the piercing gun. However, after using Google images, we realized that there was no clear, true representation of any beef cow, anywhere. It was disappointing. Either the cattle were goofy looking cartoon characters that were not only spotted like dairy cows and had horns (which ours do not, nor do many little calves...think about it, little calves, little horns, big cows, big horns. We, however, have cattle with NO HORNS).

Anyway, I'm digressing.

We settled on having me free-hand (which is hilarious, because I am NO artist) a picture of a black cow on the back of an old pizza box. I know, super fancy.

As I colored, Joe and I discussed how disappointed we were with the resources available to the general public and the representation out there on cattle. As a teacher, I used Google images all the time as a resource. It was disappointing to see that different beef associations, National FFA, even Ag in the Classroom offered no resources to the general public in regards to true representation of animals and American agriculture. How are we supposed to fight the dorky, nerdish stereotype when all that's out there is a dorky, nerdish stereotype?


Anyway, after our art session, Joe headed off to kindergarten. Anna's teacher took some great pictures, and Joe and Anna both were so excited about how the presentation turned out. He did great, the kids loved the ear tags, and he is hopeful the lesson they took away gave them just a taste of life on a real farm.

We enjoyed this experience because, yet again, it has made us realize how much more educating we need to do to get our story out to the general public.

We'll continue to do kindergarten class at a time!


  1. Good for you! We live in a very rural area, only 8000 some in the county, and we are one of the top three ag counties in Indiana, at least land usage-wise and production too I think....where is that ag stats book?.... but even we have kids who don't know much about Ag. So glad you are doing your part.

    How is the weather in your area? We are planted and crops are up. For some reason our farms are in an oasis of good. Many had crops up but are now looking at ponds, and about just as many people do not have a seed in the ground and are looking at the same ponds. It's gong to be a difficult year.

  2. We too are in an "oasis of good" (love that phrase!). We have dodged a lot of bad storms, heavy rains and high winds, so our corn has a really good stand, as Joe says. Looks great out there. We are getting some good heat on it, too, today and hopefully this week, so I'm hopeful for a great year. However, same thing as you, around us, just 20 miles east and 20 miles west, not so great...lots of lakes in fields. I hope the season cooperates for you...and for us! Thanks for reading!

  3. This is so great! I agree there needs to be more education out there. Before I moved to the country I hadn't a clue that ranches like yours and mine existed. I didn't realize that ranchers and farmers are REAL people that grow/raise OUR food.