Seeing life through a farmer’s eyes: Pupils’ farm knowledge grows

Reagan Sullivan, left, and Emma Perez, both fourth-graders at Langston Hughes School, experience the view from the cab of a modern tractor Thursday during a Slice of Ag event at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 21st and Harper streets. The event, sponsored by K-State Research and Extension, provided fourth-graders from area schools a close look at farm life, including viewing hogs, beef and dairy cattle.

When most children think about pizza, it’s likely they don’t think about the farmers and animals behind the steaming, cheesy slice they’re about to chomp on.

But that’s just what the Kansas State Research and Extension Slice of Ag program wants fourth-graders across the county to learn.

“This food came from somewhere,” said Douglas County office director Bill Wood. “It didn’t just show up in the grocery store. Somebody had to help grow it.”

Some students from Langston Hughes School had never seen cows or pigs up close.

“I think they were a bit bigger than I thought they would be,” Jeseung Lee said.

For Elizabeth Mullins, it was almost too close. “They were cute, but smelly, at the same time,” she said.

The program, in its 10th year, has schooled 8,000 students in just about every aspect of farming, from vegetables and the water cycle, to grains and tractors.

“Our goal is to hit every student in the county with the message about agriculture and where food comes from,” Wood said.

And it all centers on one slice of pizza and all the things that need to be grown and taken care of before a pie can go in the oven.

“Milk, beef, pork, cheese,” Wood said. “I hope that after today when they go to eat pizza, they think of farmers.”

While the kids get a taste of farm life, they’re not convinced they want to be the ones feeding the country.

“It’s too much work,” Wolfgang Schonewise said. “(But) I think it’s pretty cool. I just like learning about these different things.”