Many Hats of an Iowa Farmer
Target Grade Level / Age Range:
Grades K-2, 3-5
Use this document to convert the lesson into a virtual learning module for your students. Use the steps outlined to create the different elements of a Google Classroom or other online learning platform. You can also send the steps directly to students in a PDF, present them in a virtual meeting, or plug them into any other virtual learning module system.
Students will understand that farmers have to complete many different types of tasks for their jobs and why those tasks are important.
- Veterinarian: scrubs, syringe, stethoscope
- Business manager: tie, calculator, brief case
- Mechanic: John Deere, Case IH or Gleaner hat, wrench, mechanics shirt/overalls
- Construction worker: hard hat, tool belt, screwdriver, safety glasses
- Electrician: Electrical tape, wire stripper, hard hat, spool of wire
- Plant & Soil Scientist (Agronomist): magnifying glass, insect holder, Pioneer/DeKalb/Wyffels/other seed hat
- Truck driver: Trucking company hat, road map, steering wheel
- Nutritionist/chef: chef’s hat, measuring cup, MyPlate graphic
- Athlete: dumbbell, sweatbands
- Computer technician: laptop case, GPS unit
- Inventor/engineer: calculator, graph paper, pliers, wrench
- Meteorologist: Umbrella, big sunglasses, weather map cut from newspaper
- Environmental scientist: big test tube, water test strip, tree book
- Teacher: chalk, blackboard, apple
- Name tags for each “hat” or costume – written on sticky nametags or printed and placed in plastic name tag holders
- A cloth shopping bag for each set of “hat” props
Suggested Companion Resources
- A Day in the Life of a Farmer by Heather Adamson
- Farmer: A person whose job is to grow crops and raise livestock for food, fiber and fuel
- Agriculture: Producing crops and livestock for food, fiber and fuel
- Livestock: Domesticated animals that are raised for the production of food, fiber and fuel
- Crops: Crops, such as corn and soybeans, that are raised for food and fuel
- Technology: Advances in agricultural production with the aid of new science and information
Interest Approach or Motivator
Ask students to list jobs in their community. What do their family members do? What do they do every day?
Background – Agricultural Connections
Farming is an occupation that requires farmers to do many different jobs on a day to day (or even season to season) basis. In many lines of work, people complete the same tasks every day, but for farmers, tasks have a great deal of variability throughout the day, week, or year. Farmers must be proficient in the completion of many different types of jobs, which is often called “wearing many hats.” This can also be referred to as being a “jack of all trades” – having skills in a variety of different trades or ability to complete many different jobs. Some of the many hats farmers wear include:
- Props: Scrubs, syringe, stethoscope
- Duties: Identifies health problems in his/her livestock. Helps deliver baby animals when problems occur. Administers vaccines and medicine when necessary.
- Props: tie, calculator, brief case
- Duties: Watches the market and decides when to sell crops and livestock. Makes business deals. Buys and sells land and equipment. Calculates profit and whether a new business venture will be profitable. Manages employees, keeps financial records, sends bills, and distributes checks.
- Props: Gleaner hat, wrench, mechanic’s shirt/overalls.
- Duties: Fixes tractors, trucks, and implements when problems occur. Sometimes he/she makes repairs in the farm shop, but during busy times of the year repairs are often made in the field.
- Props: tool belt, hard hat, screwdriver, safety glasses
- Duties: Builds fence and buildings. Makes repairs to fences, loading chutes, etc. Pours concrete and prepares the foundation for new buildings.
- Props: Electrical tape, wire stripper, hard hat, spool of wire
- Duties: Properly installing wire to bring electricity to bins, grain dryers, shops, augers, and farm machinery.
Plant & Soil Scientist (Agronomist)
- Props: Magnifying Glass, insect holder, soil test kit, Ottilie/Pioneer seed hat.
- Duties: Monitors crops for insect and disease problems. Needs to be able to identify different soil types on his/her farms and know what those soils need to produce a bountiful crop.
- Talking point: Iowa farmers are true professionals by bringing a variety of educational experiences to their agriculture business. For example, most farmers are trained and certified in the use of ag chemicals.
- Props: Trucking Co. Hat, Road Map, Steering Wheel
- Duties: Hulls grain to the farm or elevator, transports feed for his/her operation.
- Props: chef’s hat, measuring cup
- Duties: Prepares feed rations for the best health and development of livestock.
- Talking point: Farmers make sure that their livestock (cows, pigs) are healthy because they are raising the animal for human consumption. Farmers make sure there is not too much fat on the animals.
- Props: Headband, dumbbell
- Duties: Farmers are usually physically fit, because they do hard physical labor nearly every day. Jobs such as scooping corn, stacking hay bales, and lifting bags of feed are physically demanding and require farmers to be strong.
- Talking point: Every spring, farmers lift and pour bags of seed into the planter. Often times, the bags weigh about 50 pound each. How about stacking small bales of hay? A small bale of hay weighs approximately 70 pounds. Some seven year old kids don’t even weigh 50 pounds.
- Props: laptop case (ask the student to pretend it is heavy). Also, say that this person could be holding a GPS Unit.
- Duties: Uses technology to farm the land more efficiently
- Talking point: Thanks to modern technology, such as biotechnology, global positional systems and conservation tillage, farmers are producing more food on fewer acres with fewer inputs.
- Props: Calculator, graph paper, pliers, wrench
- Duties: Often makes changes to farm equipment so that they work better and does the job he/she needs them to do. Develops new tools and machines that make work easier.
- Talking point: A farmer invented a Shover, which is two tools in one: a shovel at one end with a detachable hammer on the opposite end. The Shover saves time and frustration when building and repairing fences and other farm tasks by combining a shovel and a hammer in one easy-to-carry tool.
- Props: Umbrella, big sunglasses, weather map from newspaper
- Duties: Understand weather and climate; be aware of possible weather changes and how to prepare for these changes.
- Talking point: Farmers need to be aware of the weather conditions outside. Farmers can only spray fertilizers when there is little or no wind. And, they want to make sure it will be dry because rain will wash off the fertilizer.
- Props: Big test tube, water test strips, tree book
- Duties: Works for protect and conserve our natural resources.
- Talking point: Farmers take good care of the soil and water because they earn their living from the land. And, they want to make sure they are able to pass the land on to future generations.
- Props: Chalk, black board, apple
- Duties: Teaches the next generation about farming.
- Talking Point: This is one of the most important jobs of a farmer, and they are often teaching others without realizing it. Farmers usually learn how to be a farmer by watching and working with their parents/grandparents/neighbors. Today most farmers have a college education, but many of the skills needed to be a good farmer cannot be learned in a classroom - they learn by experience and watching others. Note: Saving the teacher for last is a nice way to end the presentation.
- Before the presentation, place the materials for each “hat” in a separate cloth shopping bag with the appropriate name tag. Place the bags in the desired order on a table or at the side of the presentation space, within reach, facing away from the audience. If there is a large group of students, set up a chair for each career in front of the space for costumed student volunteers to sit in.
- Explain to students that farmers are people who raise crops and livestock for food, fuel and fibers. Unlike jobs in which people complete similar tasks each day, farmers have a wide variety of tasks they must complete, the job of a farmer requires the skills to complete a wide variety of different types of tasks. These tasks can be very different from one day or even one season to the next. That’s called “wearing many different hats.”
- Remind students that in the presentation, many of these jobs will be explored, but many of these could also be a person’s full-time job, too. For example, a farmer may complete many tasks a veterinarian would, but there are people who are veterinarians full-time and complete those tasks every day.
- Explain that you have brought costumes and props that represent the various “jobs” of a farmer. Volunteers will be asked to come onstage one at a time, put on the costume and model it for the rest of the group. The group will then guess what job the student is modeling.
- Ask volunteers to come up one at a time, and reiterate that volunteers chosen will be people who have been good listeners and answer questions throughout the presentation.
- Select a student volunteer so join you. Have them stand in an easy-to-see place.
- Select the shopping bag that contains the costume for the first job. Start with a job that is easier to guess, such as a veterinarian.
- Put the costume on the student volunteer and ask the group to think about what they think the job might be, but keep their guesses to themselves until the whole costume is on.
- Once the volunteer is completely in costume, ask the group to guess the job. If they have not guessed correctly after a few tries, give the group the answer and pin the name tag on the student volunteer.
- With the volunteer still in front of the group with you, talk about the job and why farmers need to know how to do it.
- After explaining the job, ask the student to sit in a chair in front of the group. If chairs are not available or the group is small, have the student take off the costume and return to the audience.
- Repeat steps 6-11 until all of the jobs have been discussed.
- If students in costume are seated in the front of the room, review the jobs for the group by having students go down the line and say their job title.
- After reviewing the jobs, ask students:
- If you were a farmer, which job would be your favorite?
- Least favorite?
- Why is it important that farmers know how to do all of these different jobs, or wear all of these different hats?
- What role do farmers play in everyday life?
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
Did you know? (Ag facts)
- 2% of Americans are involved in production agriculture
- There are over 200 careers in agriculture
- More than 97% of Iowa farms are owned by families
- There are approximately 89,000 farms in Iowa
- Have students interview a farmer they know and write about the different jobs that that farmer does.
- Invite a local farmer into the class to be a guest speaker and discuss all of the different things they might do in one day.
Cindy Hall, IALF
Kelsey Faivre, IALF
Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation
Agriculture Literacy Outcomes
- Food, Health and Lifestyle Outcomes
- Recognize that agriculture provides our most basic necessities: food, fiber (fabric or clothing), energy, and shelter
- Culture, Society, Economy & Geography Outcomes
- Discuss what a farmer does.
- Discover that there are many jobs in agriculture
Common Core Connections
- Social Studies:
- SS.1.13. Explain why people have different jobs in the community.
- SS.1.11. Compare the goods and services that people in the local community produce with those that are produced in other communities.
- SS.2.12. Identify how people use natural resources to produce goods and services.
- SS.3.13: Identify how people use natural resources, human resources, and physical capital to produce goods and services.
- 5-ESS3-1: Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and the environment.
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