Teachers gaining insights into ag

DELVING INTO AGRICULTURE — Teachers from around the state are attending a two-day Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom tour, which began Thursday morning at Avery Weigh-Tronix in Fairmont. (Photo courtesy Wanda Patsche)

FAIRMONT — About 35 teachers from across the state began a two-day Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom tour in Fairmont on Thursday.

The group is led by Wanda Patsche, a regional ag curriculum specialist with Ag in the Classroom. The purpose of the group is to bring ag-themed lessons into the classroom setting so students can connect farm to food.

“What’s neat about Minnesota Ag in the Classroom is that it’s designed so that lessons can be used for different subjects including science, history or math,” Patsche noted.

Of the 35 teachers involved, many are from southern Minnesota, but some came from around Bemidji and the metro area. Aside from the tour, the group will gather in meeting rooms at Holiday Inn in Fairmont, where the teachers from out of town are staying.

The tour includes kindergarten teachers, high school teachers and everything in between.

“We have over 500 lessons that are available to teachers. This (the tour) is a great way to connect with teachers and give them an ag tour. Many of them have never been on a farm or have lost their connection to a farm,” Patsche explained.

She said this year’s theme for Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom is STEM, so every stop is focused on science, technology, engineering or math.

The group’s first stop was Avery Weigh-Tronix in Fairmont, where teachers learned more about what the firm does.

“It will really open their eyes to what kind of jobs are available. When most people think about ag, they think about production ag and growing food, but there’s a lot of other jobs that are ag-related that people aren’t aware of,” Patsche said.

The group then went to Brown County to tour a hog farm. The last stop was Morgan Creek Winery, to discuss the ag aspect of the winery and to give teachers a chance to share what they have learned so far.

Today, the tour will visit Jon Eversman’s Martin County farm, where he and his brother, Jeff, have put up solar panels to use as a power source.

“We’ll learn more about why they did that, how it works and what the future of solar panels is,” Patsche explained.

The last stop of the tour is Patsche’s farm, where she will have several different stations set up.

“They’ll have the opportunity to learn about drone technology and actually get to fly a drone. Another station will give them the opportunity to drive a tractor or combine using GPS technology. The third station they’ll learn about grain handling and how we store grain and where it goes. We’ll also talk about soybeans,” she said.

Patsche used social media to promote the tour. She said Minnesota Ag in the Classroom also promoted it, sending out a notice to schools and teachers.

“It was for teachers interested in learning about Minnesota Ag in the Classroom and agriculture. They also earned continuing ed credits, which they all need to earn,” Patsche said.

She pointed out that the tour also is a good opportunity for teachers to network with each other.