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New youth classes explore ag, food

FAIRMONT — A new after-school program that explores agriculture and food systems is being offered through Fairmont CER. The classes are being taught by Wanda Patsche.

Patsche is a local farmer and agriculture blogger. In the past, she’s been involved with Minnesota Ag in the Classroom. Through that she’s helped local teachers bring ag-related lessons into their classrooms.

While Patsche has enjoyed doing that, she said, because of Covid, everything went from in-person and hands-on, to Zoom meetings and webinars, which she understood, but was disappointed with.

Then CER director Stephanie Busiahn reached out to Patsche and asked if she would be interested in putting on a CER class.

“Now I can be in front of kids and do these activities. My whole focus is hands-on and active learning,” Patsche said.

She developed a six-week program to start with. There will be a different theme each week that explores agriculture and food systems.

The first week is all about apples. Patsche said they’ll make applesauce and learn basic information about the fruit.

“The emphasis is not only active learning, but we’re going to have fun doing this,” Patsche said.

Other themes include pumpkins, where they’ll make pumpkin pies in a bag and maple syrup where students will learn about different kinds of trees.

Patsche explained the driving force behind her classes.

“Kids need to know where food comes from and that chocolate milk doesn’t come from a brown cow,” Patsche said.

Her passion lies in ag education and teaching people about where their food comes from, something she thinks everyone should have basic knowledge of.

“We never know who they’re (kids) going to be when they grow up or where they’ll go. I think that so many people are disconnected from where their food comes from. Learning some basic information about where food comes from will be important for our society,” Patsche said.

Her classes start this week and will go through mid-December. They’re targeted at students grades 1 and 2 and 3 through 5. While Patsche is excited to get started, she’s already looking at future programming and possibly combining Ag and STEM in the future. She wants to see what students and families get excited about the first time around.

“Let’s walk first and then I can run,” Patsche said.

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