It's an annual event near Pratt that brings students from across the county up close to the many faces of agriculture.
From drones to straw-filled dummies to honey bees to homemade ice cream, fifth graders from across Pratt County and Cunningham enjoyed a day on the farm on April 4.
Every year, all fifth graders in the county travel to the David Blasi farm northwest of Pratt to learn about activities that happen on the farm.
Various organizations and individuals presented information on a variety of topics associated with farming. Groups of students rotated among the presentations and got to participate in every activity.
One station that got a lot of startled responses was tractor safety. A straw filled dummy was tied to a power take-off then the PTO was turned on and the dummy and straw flew to pieces. Helping with the demonstration were area residents Jenna Fitzsimmons and Camryn Youngers, both representing Collegiate Farm Bureau.
Fitzsimmons said anyone working around a PTO should shut it off and turn off the tractor before getting out of the cab. All lose clothing should be tucked in, and loose hair should be secured under a cap. It only takes a couple of seconds for a PTO to grab something loose and cause serious injury or death, she said.
Fitzsimmons and Youngers also discussed other safety issues on the farm.
Eli (Blasi) Sneath sat on her horse and shared information and answered questions about cattle and horses. Several cow and calf pairs were in the corral.
Students formed teams and were given names of common objects and had to determine if the objects came from the farm, stores, factories or were natural products. Team members placed each object name in a plastic container and at the end of the event each object was evaluated to see if it’s origin was correct.
Some product sources, like wheat, were easy while others, like watches, took a little more thinking. Cody Barilla of American Ag Credit provided some of the information at this station.
Students got a unique view of water erosion at the stream bed rrosion trailer operated by Natural Resources Conservation Service with Brad Swisher NRCS technician providing the information. The trailer featured running water that gradually ate away soil from unprotected banks towards a variety of toys representing homes, vehicles, livestock and even a skeleton. Students saw how quickly soil can erode and cause banks to collapse into the river, taking things with them. Tiny recycled plastic pellets take the place of soil.
Students got to pet several animals including pigs and sheep. Veterinarian Brian Spitzer and volunteer Shannon Bergner were on hand to give information and answer questions about livestock.
Another natural display was a demonstration about bees from area beekeeper Tim Kuhn. Kuhn said he was 12 when he first got interested in bees after spending time with his grandfather who was a beekeeper. He said his beehives produced 150 pounds of honey a year.
Matt Westerhaus, crop sensory specialist for Heartland Soil Services, shared how drones can be used in a variety of ways to determine crop health. He said drone equipment is very sensitive and some sensors are accurate up to width of a human hair. With drones, Heartland can get visual samples from many locations in a field that used to take many hours to collect.
Local farmer Duane DeWeese shared information on various pieces of farm equipment and how each was used. He also taught students about the various types of crops grown in Pratt County.
Grilled hamburgers, chips and water were provided for each student. Students also got to make ice cream using liquid nitrogen and cream. Students had a protective glove to hold a styro-foam cup with cream then liquid nitrogen was added and students had to stir quickly and continue stirring until they had a cup of frozen ice cream.