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Talked 'farming' as a career to grade-schoolers

With Sheilah's guidance, Mike returned to his old grade school for a career day talk about farming, without being 'eaten alive'.

Mike: A couple weeks back, I had an opportunity to do something I had never done before. My sister, an elementary school teacher, asked if I would come on behalf of my niece, who attends the same school, to speak to the students for career day.

Sheilah: What grades are you going to be talking to?

Mike: All of them – Kindergarten through 6th grade.

Sheilah: What’s your plan?

Mike: Plan?

Sheilah: Oh boy! You have to have an idea on what you’re going to say. You can’t talk to the kindergartners the same way you do the 6th graders. You need a basic outline of what you want to say and get across to them.

Mike. I hadn’t thought of that. Now, I was getting a little nervous. But Sheilah assured me that there was no need to be nervous.

Sheilah: If you can talk in front of adults, you can talk in front of children.

Mike: So I put together a slideshow of pictures from planting, spraying, baling straw, harvest, even some of our composting operation. I was going to a small, rural school, with an average class size of about 20 students – the same one I attended as a child.

I felt very comfortable starting off each one of my sessions with "Who here knows where food comes from?" I was amazed.

Almost every hand went up. And their answer was loud and clear: "Food comes from a farm!!"

I was happy. These kids knew it! So I showed off the slides and we talked about the pictures.

The children were eager for information. They asked all sorts of questions. A sixth grader asked:
"What happens if you have a bad year and your crops don’t grow?" So I had an opportunity to talk about crop insurance.

Even the teachers may have learned something there. I was so worried that it wasn't going to go smooth. But time seemed to just fly by

I did ask each group what they wanted to be when they grew up. As you'd guess, there were all sorts of answers. Kindergarteners wanted to be princess’s, ninja’s and baseball players. Fifth graders wanted to be marine biologists and teachers.

There was at least a couple in each grade who wanted to be farmers. I asked the 5th and 6th graders if they thought college was something they wanted to do. They all agreed that college or technical training was something they'd pursue after high school because that’s where you learn how to do your future job!

Later that day, I got quizzed at home.

Sheilah: So, how did it go? Did they eat you alive?

Mike: Better than I thought. Time went fast and the kids were good. They had some great questions.

Sheilah: That’s good. I told you that you wouldn’t have anything to worry about. Did you ask them where their food comes from?

Mike: Yes, and every grade got it right!

Mike Reskovac is president of Pennsylvania Corn Growers Association. The Reskovacs farm near Uniontown, Pa. Read all their "Two Hearts, One Harvest" columns in American Agriculturist.

This opinion is not necessarily that of or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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