More than 600 elementary school students from across the region recently received hands-on training in Nebraska agriculture.
Over the course of four days in Bridgeport, Hemingford and Sidney, Agsplosion, a farm literacy festival for second and third graders sponsored by the Nebraska Extension, reached 602 students in Garden County, Creek Valley, Mitchell, Bridgeport, Hay Springs, Banner County, Bayard, Alliance, Rushville, South Platte, Sidney, Leyton, Crawford, Hemingford and Gordon.
The young learners spent the day making stops on corn, soybeans, pigs, edible dry beans, wheat, beef cattle, irrigation, dairy, agricultural careers and agricultural technology. Educators and assistants from Nebraska Extension led the activities. Some of what the students learned:
Pork: the basics of the life cycle and pig production; and how pigs are raised to produce safe, quality meat for consumers.
Corn: how the No. 1 crop produced in Nebraska is planted and cultivated; on the three main types of corn produced in the State; and corn products, such as popcorn and ethanol.
Wheat: How winter wheat is grown and harvested in the Panhandle; how wheat is ground to make flour; and the difference between whole wheat and white flour. They were also able to grind their own flour using sets of pestles and mortar.
Potatoes: how potatoes go from farm to factory and how their nutritional value depends on how they are cooked; and that 85 percent of the potatoes grown in Nebraska are made into Lay’s chips.
Animals and machines: the pupils were able to pet live animals and see machines at work; learned about animal products and by-products; on the importance of agricultural technology in crop production. in the USA.
Beans: The importance to Nebraska of soybeans in central and eastern Nebraska and dry edible beans in western Nebraska; both crops are sold in the United States and around the world for human consumption; and soy is also an important component of animal feed rations.
Beef: the nutritional value of beef rich in protein, vitamin B and iron; also by-products supplied by livestock, including leather, drugs, lotions and gelatin.
Dairy products: process of producing milk from food to refrigerator; samples of cheese sticks provided by Oshkosh Heifer Development.
Irrigation: what is irrigation and why it is so important to agriculture in Nebraska; how irrigation technology has evolved over time; and how these changes have improved our water use efficiency.
Sponsors and other supporters provided financial support, use of facilities, farm equipment and live animals for the events. They include the Nebraska Corn Board; Prairie Winds Community Center in Bridgeport; 21st century of Bridgeport and Sidney; Walther Farms; Jaz Henderson; Tractor and tool Alliance; Bridget and Kevin Johnston; Box Butte Ag Society; West Nebraska Community College; Titan Machinery; Narjes Cattle Co .; Joe McNurlin; and Jim Mracek.