4th Grade Students Get Virtual Tour of Agriculture Secretary’s Farm

PERRY, Iowa – October 23, 2015– Fourth grade students of Perry Elementary in Perry, Iowa are in the midst of studying historical agriculture and how it is different from agriculture practices used today. As part of their class, they explored the inside of a combine and learned about corn harvest firsthand with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture – Bill Northey. Through an Agriculture in the Classroom program called FarmChat™ students interacted with and asked questions of Northey learning about Iowa crops.

FarmChat™ utilizes technology (Skype, FaceTime and other software platforms) to bring the farm into the classroom. Students can speak directly with the farmer and even ride along in the combine all from the safety and security of their classroom.

“Most of our students have no idea what a farm is and what happens on a farm. Most of them have never been on a farm, or will never get the chance to be on a farm, so this really opens their eyes to what farming is and gives them the chance to see a farm,” said Nicole Myers, Perry Elementary 4th grade teacher.

Six classes and a total of 150 students learned about how corn used to be harvested in the early 1900s picked by hand with a husking hook. It was time consuming and laborious. Northey explained to the students how his modern combine harvests 12 rows of corn in just a few minutes. They then asked questions about the corn is raised, how it is harvested and how important it is to the economy of Iowa. Students were given a virtual tour of the field and combine and virtually helped bring in the harvest.

Perry Elementary student, Eric, said, “I really liked when Bill told us how long it takes to combine a field. He said it could take between 2-3 days for one field and that is a really long time!”

Another student, Mia, commented, “The most surprising things I learned was that there is a tank on the combine that holds the corn, and that it takes a lot of time to plant and combine a field.”

Dallas County Farm Bureau helped coordinate the event for the Perry Elem. students. Agriculture in the Classroom is a grassroots program focused on helping students gain a greater awareness of the role that agriculture plays in our economy and society. The Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation supports Agriculture in the Classroom efforts throughout Iowa and coordinates programs like FarmChat™.

Northey is a fourth generation farmer from Spirit Lake, Iowa and raises corn and soybeans. He is serving his third term as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and leading the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. He prioritizes advancing science and new technologies to better care for air, soil and water and also reaching out to all Iowans – including students – to tell the story of Iowa agriculture.

Myers said, “Agriculture is all around us in the state of Iowa and most students have no idea what farming is. I think it is important for them to know what is going on all around us and how important agriculture is to us.”

For more information about FarmChat™ or to learn more about Agriculture in the Classroom programs in your area visit www.iowaagliteracy.org.

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About the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation

IALF serves as a central resource for educators and volunteers who want to teach Iowa’s students about agriculture. The mission is to educate Iowans, with a focus on youth, regarding the breadth and global significance of agriculture. Iowa is a leading producer of agricultural products that are essential to feed a growing world population, estimated to reach more than 9 billion by 2050. IALF believes it is important for all Iowans to understand the essential role agriculture has in their lives. IALF will support existing agriculture education efforts such as FFA, 4-H and Ag in the Classroom. IALF was created through a joint effort of agricultural stakeholders, including the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Silos and Smokestacks Foundation, DuPont Pioneer, GROWMARK, and the Iowa Beef Industry Council. For more information visit IALF online at IowaAgLiteracy.org, on Facebook, and Twitter.


Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation


Will Fett, Executive Director
Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation

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