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Stewartville FFA Ag Fair attracts more than 400

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 03/20/2013 9:06 AM

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STEWARTVILLE, Minn. — "I saw a donkey!" "A pig! A pig!" "It's looking at me!"

Kindergartners jumped, pointed and giggled as they stood in the ag room at Stewartville High School, on the threshold of entering the Stewartville FFA Ag Fair on Feb. 20.

Their excitement was contagious as they milled into the ag shop, heading past the petting zoo toward the Case IH 315AFS tractor at the far end of the shop. Their first stop was to pose for a class photograph by the tractor, with some clamoring up into the cab, others sitting on the steps, some standing on the floor between the tires and others sitting in the front tires that dwarfed them.

Next, it was onto the ice cream and the rest of the exhibits and stations.

Seniors Erik Nosbisch and Shayne Udenberg staffed the nail pounding and nut wrenching stations.

The kindergarten and first graders who visited all wanted to grab a hammer, Udenberg said, leaving Nosbisch to sell them on grabbing a wrench and trying to tighten or loosen a nut while waiting for a hammer to free up.

They were asked all kinds of questions, primarily "Can you hold my bag?" Udenberg said. One kid asked him to hold his ice cream cone. Others wanted to know who built the shed they were working in. Udenberg and Nosbisch, FFA members who are also in a building construction class, helped build the shed. It will be moved to the elementary school when it is completed.

The two remembered coming to the FFA Ag Fair when they were in elementary school.

Udenberg said he was the kid who never left the hammer, pounding nails the entire time he was at the ag fair. But, he also made time for ice cream.

"Ice cream was the best part," Udenberg said.

"It still is," Nosbisch finished in agreement.

Nearby, sophomore Olivia Oehlke tested the young elementary students safety knowledge. She held up two small containers filled with red liquids and asked which was Kool-Aid and which was cough medicine. She repeated with water and bleach, flour and Ajax, Sweet Tarts and Tums, Sudafed and candy.

"They know what their candy is," Oehlke said, but they weren't so able to discern the differences between the other products.

Oehlke left each student with this advice: "Make sure you know what it is before you eat it because it might be bad for you."

Junior Evan Doty helped youngsters in and out of the Ziegler Cat skid steer parked next to Oehlke's display. He asked the students what they would use the skid steer for and most had no idea, he said. Some, though, said they would use it for picking up wood, feed or dirt.

At the Squeal of Fortune, freshman Amelia Welter asked pork-related questions and doled out pig ear handbands. Next to her, freshman Savanah Horstmann asked about beef breeds and what came from a cow: Hamburger or chicken nuggets. Most said chicken nuggets, but one little girl giggled at the question as if Horstmann was trying to trick her and confidently answered "hamburger."

The FFAers said the ag fair is important because it gives the young students a chance to see where their food comes from and a chance to participate in hands-on activities to reinforce what they learned.

They are thankful for their sponsors who loan them the equipment for the event and support their efforts.

FFA adviser Kristen Wingert said more than 400 students came through the ag fair, including all the kindergarten and first grade classes from Stewartville's Bonner Elementary School.

The high school FFA members missed their classes on Feb. 20 to be teachers instead, interacting with and serving as role models for the younger students, Wingert said.

Additional events held at Stewartville during FFA Week included a community breakfast and pie for the teachers.