I Was Lucky to Grow Up on a Farm

I was lucky to grow up on a farm – showing Shorthorn cattle in 4-H and at the fairs. I’d come home from the University of Illinois and ride in the combine with my dad. I learned a lot about agriculture and responsibilities, without even knowing I was learning.

My dad sold Pioneer seed corn, and when it would  be delivered to our shed in the spring, the entire family would help unload. I credit my muscles and my work ethic to those early years. In addition, growing up on a farm helped launch my career as farm editor for the State Journal-Register for 27 years.

Unfortunately, fewer and fewer kids have the background I did.

Because of that, a lot of kids don’t know where their food comes from or who grows it. But there’s a web site that can help. The site is at myamericanfarm.org, developed by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture and supported by sponsors DuPont Pioneer and John Deere.

It features interactive, educational games for kindergarten through sixth-grade students. The goal is to help children understand where their food comes from and how those foods get from the farm to their dinner plate. A dozen free games engage third-through-fifth graders, including one called “ Finders Keepers,” where players move fast to snag items to fill each food group. There are even recipes for students to try (February features sweet potatoes.)

Another game, called, “Let’s Make Something Tasty,” allows kids to be star chefs using clues to find missing ingredients for dishes. And “Where in the World” encourages kids to solve a mystery by locating where crops and livestock originated around the world. There  is also a “Passport to Sustainability,” where kids learn about taking care of the land.

The games focus on science, language arts, math, geography and ag careers.

The site also recommends several books students can read to learn more about agriculture, such as “A Seed in Need” by Sam Godwin; “From Flower to Honey” by Robin Nelson; “George Washington Carver” by Nathan Olson; “Pigs on the Farm” by Mari C. Schuh and “I Drive a Tractor” by Sarah Bridges, as well as several others.

Next time you want to help a student learn about agriculture, direct them to the site. The further removed each generation becomes from the farm, the more we need to teach the importance of our country’s most important industry.

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