PEM celebrates Ag Day
By Janet Kubat Willette
Date Modified: 04/22/2012 1:52 PM
PLAINVIEW, Minn. — Did you know that a cow's hooves can be used to make fire extinguisher foam?
That's just one of the fascinating facts Plainview-Elgin-Millville FFA members shared with elementary students during their third annual National Ag Day celebration on March 22.
Seniors Cindy Evers and Blake Betcher gave a dairy presentation for the more than 500 students in pre-kindergarten through grade three who came to ag day.
They talked about cow breeds and how a cow has four stomachs. They discussed feed rations and the elementary students prepared a feed ration for themselves of shredded frosted mini-wheats, candy corn, M & Ms, chocolate chips and marshmallows.
The ration was a hit, Evers said. Students enjoyed making and eating their ration and they learned how a cow's diet is composed of several different feed sources.
They also talked about products that come from cows, Betcher said, including leather to make boots and footballs, and milk to make cheese they pile on their pizzas. The discussion stretched into cows' involvement in fertilizing the soil and growing corn.
In another classroom, Jessica Dornink, regional communications specialist with Minnesota Soybean, talked about products made from row crop. Not only are soybeans important feedstuff for animals, but they are also used in fuel and crayons, Dornink told the students.
The PEM ag day celebration wouldn't be complete without a petting zoo in the welding shop. New to this year's zoo was an alpaca dam and her cria. Whenever the dam mouthed her humming noise all the elementary students looked at her and laughed, said Becky Jostock, a PEM junior who brought three piglets for the petting zoo.
The students liked the piglets and all the other animals, but were most intrigued by the alpacas, Jostock said.
The petting zoo included a miniature horse, miniature donkey, rabbits, lambs, goats, a bull calf and two labradoodle puppies.
All the animals came from families in the district. Many animals are cared for as FFA projects, said PEM FFA adviser Paul Aarsvold.
The purpose of the event was to educate younger students about farming, animals and the impact agriculture has on their everyday lives, Betcher said.
PEM kindergarten teacher Verone Miller said the FFA students accomplished their goal.
"My kindergarten students enjoy ag day each year," she said. "They learn how food is produced and what it takes to raise crops and take care of animals. It is a great event that connects children to the agriculture industry."
Added third grade teacher Robin Holst: "I was impressed at how much the children learned and how often they could relate it to what they already knew."
FFA members have gotten a system down when they prepare for the event, Aarsvold said. They cleaned the welding shop the night before and were at school by 7:30 a.m. to be ready when elementary students began arriving. Fifteen to 20 minutes after the last elementary students left they had the animals out and had transformed the space back into a welding shop.