Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November: Understanding Agriculture's Piece of the Pie!

Pizza Pie that is!

Today I had the opportunity to give my first lesson to the 2011-2012 4th grade class I was allowed to adopt.  We had a great session on how everything that goes into making pizza comes from Agriculture.

I found a great lesson plan that North Dakota Farm Bureau has posted on their website.  We went through a power point presentation on all the parts of the pizza and how they are related to agriculture.  Students were surprised to hear that each ingredient had a tie to agriculture's vast industry.

From the wheat that makes the crust to the dairy cow that makes the cheese we discovered many aspects of agriculture and had a great first time over view of the industry.

In the following months I will get into more specific sectors of Agriculture, can't wait to see what this group has in store!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Never Fear, Agucation will soon Reappear

I realize we are well into the 2011-2012 school year and there has been no posts, you may be wondering...Did Courtney bail on this project? no no no

Because I am doing this project during my work day, I had to let things slow down a little bit.  This crazy 2011 farming season has really been an interesting one to work around to say the least! But never fear the agucation season does draw near!

I had such a blast with the class I got to visit with last year, they were an amazing group of kids! I am sad and happy that they are in the 5th grade and admittedly beyond my level of comprehension :).  This year I will be headed to a different school with a different group of 4th graders, I would love to get to each of the schools in the area but unfortunately time does not allow.  So for this year I will focus on marking 1 more on the list of schools I've been in!  

Stay tuned...it's going to be a fun year:)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


So there I was, a 24 year old girl standing in the middle of the Minot State University Dome preparing to tell high school students why they should pursue a career in agriculture. Pretty easy task huh?

I had fact and figures all ready to go:
  • Agriculture is the #1 industry in the State of North Dakota
  • Every Year there are over 48,000 jobs open Nation wide in the Ag Sector
  • Wanna live in the city? almost 17% of metropolitan jobs are ag related
That's gonna get them isn't it? Who wouldn't want to be an aggie now? These facts, combined with a pure love for all that agriculture stands for and we can secure a bright future for the world food supply, right?

I must admit I've never been so fearful looking around that gym floor with 40+ other tables around the room where people sat who held the very same passion for their careers as I do for mine. How can I even attract young people to my table? Why would they even want to come listen to what my boss and I had to say that day?

Then the moment of truth came...the announcer came over the loud speaker and said "Students, there will be three 20 minute sessions where you find a table that interests you and learn about that career, you have 3 minutes to find your first table"  Blood begins to drain from my face as I see student after student pass up our table (I wonder if I should have brought ice cream, maybe flashlights? Ya that would have gotten them to sit down with us) Then, 2 nice girls come walking up to our table and quietly sit down (YES! I think to myself, we got a few to give us a shot!) slowly but surely our table filled up! Actually, it filled up so full that we grabbed a few more chairs and assured the students that there would be another 2 sessions they could come listen in on our talk.

Why would those young people sit down at our table you ask? I'd like to say it was my good looks, but I can happily admit that it was that these students have a passion for agriculture!  They are excited about the direction it's headed in and believe in the future of this fantastic industry.
Which now brings me to a big thank you:  Thank you Parents, 4-H leaders, and FFA Advisers, it is quite apparent that you imperative people continue to instill the Agriculture way of life and it's values!  Go "AG" team!!!

For the next 20 minutes, my boss and I discussed what we do on a daily basis and why we like it so much.  We told these young people of the opportunities in agriculture and why we have both pursued careers in this industry. Now I'm not sure if we convinced any future agronomists of their potential career paths, but I think we both left that day proud to be part of an industry full of excitement and new things.

If you get the chance I recommend you tell a young person why it is that you do what you do.  I often go to work each day never considering the question.  But, that day I defended my decision on why it is that I love getting up in the morning and spending the entire day helping farmers produce the food that feeds the world with a smile on my face and dirt on my shoes.  Who knew I'd feel so blessed!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

March- Holy Canola!

March was sadly my last classroom time with the fantastic 4th graders of 2010-2011.  I told the kids that for our last meeting we were going to be learning about my favorite crop.  Apparently it was no secret as all hands went in the air and everyone said Canola!

I found an awesome activity book on www.canolainfo.org called Captain Canola.  It included various activities including a word find, crossword, and word scramble.  We discussed the growth of a canola plant from seed to rossette to bolting to flowering and podding.  We learned that many products are made from canola including Canola oil, lotions, bath oils, and newspaper ink!  We also discussed the process canola goes through in a crush plant to be separated into canola oil and livestock feed.

We then decided to have some fun with one of the products that comes from that beautiful yellow plant!  We made Playdough!  In the Captain Canola activity book there was a great recipe for dough which I am happy to provide: 1C Flour, 1C Salt, 1TBSP Canola oil, mix all together and slowly add water until the product is soft and clay like...use food coloring to color to your choice!

Here are some pictures of the very fun activity!
Mixing Flour and Salt for the 1st step of the Playdough making!

Patiently waiting for the next step!

Mixing in the food coloring and Canola oil

It turned out pretty good and was lots of fun to play with!

Very Cute Color!  Took some elbow grease but it turned into something fun!

Looks pretty gooey

The dough turned a few people's hands colors!

Saw a Very cute "Thanks Courtney" written in play dough on one of the students desks!

I had to take a picture of this!  These kids have learned so much about the agriculture industry this year and it touched my heart to see a little girl write I Love Agriculture with her play dough!

I love seeing smiles like this!

Stay Tuned!  For our Final meeting I will be hosting the group for a tour of Dakota Agronomy's Fertilizer plant and SunPrarie Grain's Seed plant and main grain driveway on Tuesday!  It should be a fantastic time!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Winter slump?

March is almost over, we are all getting tired of this up and down and up and down again weather, and it doesn't appear that we are getting any closer to entering the field!  Now, we all know the snow will melt but it's the waiting that get's to me.

Every winter I say it won't happen to me,
I won't:
Eat to much and gain the weight I lost last summer...ugh wrong again
Start sleeping in before work and stay on my 5:30am schedule...alarm went off until 7:15 this morning :S
Fall behind on reading Ag advocacy blogs, online news articles and listening to radio news...

unfortunately this last one has gotten the best of me. I always have the best of intentions to stay current on daily happenings, however, when I'm not driving around checking fields and visiting farms everyday, my radio strays away from KCJB or KFYR and I don't stay current with life happening around me.  All summer long I find it easier to keep up, probably because the radio is always on.  But, during the winter months, when I actually have time to reply to Blog posts and articles I find myself lacking.

Yesterday I decided to take 5 minutes and hop on a blog that I used to read faithfully the Beef Daily Blog by Amanda Radke.  In her blog, she talked about HSUS and their attacks on Animal Agriculture. I couldn't help but repost on Facebook and saw that the video she posted went viral throughout my friends, repost after repost! The power of social media is amazing!  This led into an evening filled with catching up on blogs that I haven't read in far too long!  I learned about Prince Harry (Thank you Jamie May!) and about a friends kids that have been finding joy in simple objects (Great post Katie!) I sat for an hour reading up on what people have been up to or how people are getting active, staying in touch with Agriculture, and was inspired!

I firmly resolve, to get my butt in gear, I have decided to publicly post this so I have something to keep reminding me!  I challenge everyone to read a blog post or a news article every day.  So often we let life get the best of us and we get behind, I know I'm guilty but hopefully the sunshine and warm weather coming will kick start a new beginning!  Spring is coming!

Please stay tuned I will be visiting my 4th graders on Thursday!  A new blog post is on the way!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February- Supply/Demand/Input costs

Although these three topics don't sound highly entertaining to the average 10 year old, I was surprised to find out how much my group of 4th grade agriculture enthusiasts actually knew about them!  It seems hard for me to keep up, for each class I go to with these kids I find that they have recently studied the topic we are discussing and they are so knowledgeable!

Today we started with a discussion on Supply and Demand.  Supply and Demand are so important to farmers because it is what drives the price of their commodities they sell each year.  We discussed the relationship between supply and demand and also the relationship of price to each of these.  When we were done with our discussion each student was given an arrow and we too a short quiz where they were asked questions like: What would happen to the demand for milk if it went on sale for $.25/ gal.  I'm pleased to say these kids are quite smart and did a great job!

Our next activity focused on input costs.  The class was split into 3 teams and were given 25 seeds in a cup.  they were given 10 situation cards which had scenarios such as: "Rainstorm hit your crop- remove 7 seeds from your cup" or "Storms in Georgia prevent crop from being harvested-grain price increase-put 15 seeds in your cup"  Students enjoyed learning about different obstacles farmers face each year and also about the importance of Ag lending.  They sometimes found it necessary to receive a "seed loan" from the seed bank. They were all very good at explaining what they needed their seeds for.

I have a blast each month watching these students enjoy learning about agriculture!  I'm so very proud of them and cannot wait until next month!

NDFB YF&R Leadership Conference

I know this post is late but I didn't want to miss putting it on my blog!

Last month I had the opportunity to participate in one of the most amazing leadership conferences I've been to in my life!  North Dakota Farm Bureau has put a lot of focus into supporting each generation and has allowed the Young Farmer and Rancher committee the opportunity to put on a conference each January that focuses on a variety of topics including leadership development, current agriculture issues, political policies and much much more!

This year we had a variety of amazing speakers that hit on many target areas that we as young people deal with each and every day!  Dr. Ron Hanson, a specialist in the transition of farms and ranches between generations spoke about the importance of communication in relationships and also gave a great talk on how each generational transition is different but it is important to find the right one for your family.

Katie Heger gave an amazing presentation about stress management.  It is a topic that often goes undiscussed in our industry but is something that is very common among producers and ag professionals.  She did a great job at talking about issues people face today and gave some really helpful resources for people to use when facing these issues.

Sandy Clark, NDFB's Lobbyist gave an update on what's going on in the Legislature and provided a lot of information about how we can communicate with our lawmakers.

There were question an answer sessions, expert panels and lots of discussion.

The weekend wasn't without fun, however!  We participated in farm Olympics! My team, Hawbaker's Haymakers, had a blast!  We enjoyed Ice Cream donated by the dairy association and also had the opportunity to participate in social media throughout the weekend!

Chris & Bria Brossart enjoying some ice cream treats!

Old Collegiate friends reuniting!

Even the board members got in on the tractor driving!
Tom Tarnavsky testing out his skills!

NDFB Field Staff Tom Bodine helping his little ones learn the art of tractor driving!

My team! Hawbaker's Haymakers!

Ron Hanson giving a great break out session!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January- Ag Careers!

I had a great time meeting with the 4th graders today!  Our topic was Careers in Agriculture.  I had planned that we would play "Ag Career Bingo" I may have misjudged my timing a little and found myself in a little bit of a crunch prior to getting to the school.  Thanks to some of my amazing co-workers, pulling together to help cut out  500 1"x1" bingo pieces!  They were a huge help!

When I arrived in the classroom I had the students design their own bingo cards with several agricultural careers in the spots where numbers usually reside.  We went through a short powerpoint highlighting several careers in agriculture including: Loan Officer, Truck Driver, Chemist, Agronomist, Machinery Salesman, Farmer, Rancher, Animal Nutritionist and many others.  We then played a game of Ag Career Bingo, where I drew out definitions of the careers and the kids got to guess which career I was talking about!  We heard some great stories about how almost each of the students knew someone with a career in agriculture!

Next week they will be attending the KMOT Ag Expo in Minot for Living Ag Classroom , please stay tuned for another blog post!

Here are some pictures from today:

My awesome co-workers helping me out!  Thanks Darrell, Bryan, Doug & Ruth!!!

Checking out some Ag Careers!

Everyone got to make their own Bingo Cards!

All of the students are such good listeners!

Sweet Bingo markers for sweet kids!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

December...It's never to cold for Ice Cream

The December meeting was fantastic!

I had mentioned a few times to the 4th graders that we may make ice cream for one of our classroom meetings.

North Dakota Farm Bureau graciously donated books to the students titled "Mini Milkmaids on the Moove"  It is one of many Accurate Ag Books promoted by American Farm Bureau.  Accurate Ag books are written for many reading levels to teach youth about the truths of Agriculture.  In this particular book, written by a pair of young twin girls from Maryland and their mother, two girls get to experience many different aspects of the dairy industry.  They tour a dairy farm where they help milk and feed, and also tour a creamery where they bottle milk and make ice cream!  At the end of the book their are recipes for Ice Cream in a bag as well as Butter in a jar.

Dakota Agronomy Partners donated supplies for the students to make their own ice cream so after reading the book, the excited 4th graders got to work combining the ingredients and shaking their resealable bags for about 8 minutes.  We even had chocolate toppings and the kids said it was delicious!

Shaking up the ice cream!
brr looks like it's getting a little cold!

The Birthday girl Trying out her ice cream!

If you are interested in learning more about accurate Ag Books please check out the following webiste:

November...Fertilize, Fertilize, Fertilize

In November I thought we could take an opportunity to learn about crop nutrients.

The fall is an important time for farmers.  Harvest is almost done and many farmers are thinking about replenishing their fields with nutrients.

The class and I started out our conversation with talking about the nutrients needed to grow crops in large amounts.  We talked about 4 Macro nutrients (nutrients needed in large amounts by plants)
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Sulfur.  I brought in samples of products we put on fields to increase field concentration of these nutrients such as Urea and Manure as a Nitrogen source, Mono-ammonium phosphate and  MicroessentialsSZ as Phosphorus products, Potash as a Potassium Source, and Ammonium Sulfate as a source of Sulfur.  We also talked about what plants look like when they are lacking each of these nutrients.

After our quick lesson we played a game called Tic-Tac Agriculture where the kids got to test their knowledge on what they just learned.  I found some great templates for power point games on the website http://jc-schools.net/tutorials/ppt-games/.  There were many different options to create games of your choice to make learning and teaching about a variety of topics very fun!

October Meeting

I walked through the door of my first meeting with the 4th graders pretty nervous.  I love to see the faces of 9-10 year olds.  Their desire to gather information is displayed in their smiley and eager faces.  There were several questions and many comments about what Agriculture is and who all is involved in this vast industry.

We spent our hour talking different crops grown in North Dakota such as Wheat, Barley, Canola, Corn, Flax, Soybeans and several others.  We also talked about things needed to help crops grow such as Fertilizer, Herbicide, and Fungicide. We talked about animal agriculture and many other sectors of the very large industry.  There were many stories that I was able to hear about the student's involvement in agriculture as well as questions pertaining to many subjects. The lively bunch was so excited and I was so excited to be there!

I left quite a bit more confident then when I showed up, the year is destined to be an exciting one!

So I started a little late, but here is my first post!

I am starting off my first official Blog post on my Classroom Agriculture Blog a little later that I wanted.  That being said. I'm glad I have figured out how to navigate a blog so I can start this!  In the fall of 2010, I approached a teacher of a local 4th grade classroom.  He allowed me the opportunity to come in to his classroom once a month and teach his students about Agriculture!  I have a passion for the industry so many of us hold dear to our hearts and would love to encourage area youth to take it upon themselves to learn about this fantastic way of life!

As an Agronomist, this doesn't really fall into my job description.  However, thankfully I work for a company that encourages this practice and when I mentioned taking this opportunity my boss and co-workers were nothing but encouraging!

In the following blog posts I will highlight each session that I have had so far and will continue to update on events that give me the opportunity to teach about agriculture as well as some amazing opportunities I receive to learn about our industry!