Mark Loring Booth, executive director of Take Flight Wildlife Education, holds a red-tailed hawk. He kept students on the edges of their seats by showing and talking about the hawk, along with a great horned owl and two kinds of falcons.
Mark Loring Booth, executive director of Take Flight Wildlife Education, holds a red-tailed hawk. He kept students on the edges of their seats by showing and talking about the hawk, along with a great horned owl and two kinds of falcons.
FRANKFORT, Ind. — Despite low temperatures, fourth-graders in Clinton County recently traveled to Camp Cullom to learn about swine and sheep production, milking and churning butter, soils, wildlife, insects, beekeeping and more.

More than 400 students visited Cullom over the two-day farm education event sponsored by the Clinton County Soil and Water Conservation District and Farm Bureau Inc.

The Farm Education Conservation Camp has been available to Clinton County fourth-grade students for 17 years.

The camp has become an annual event with the mission of teaching students the importance of the agriculture industry and natural resources conservation, said Leah Harden, district administrator and education coordinator.

In one of the stations, Mark Loring Booth, executive director of Take Flight Wildlife Education, told students about birds by showing them a red-tailed hawk, two kinds of falcons and a great horned owl.

Booth told students why it mattered that they pay attention to things such as wildlife.

“The more you learn about nature, the better you can take care of it and the healthier it will be,” he said.

Student Raves

Steven, a student from Suncrest Elementary School, said he enjoyed the bird exhibit the most. He said he learned several things, but the one that stuck in his mind was how far down birds can see when they’re flying.

Mia, another fourth-grader from Suncrest, agreed that the bird station was fun, but she had another favorite — the dairy exhibit.

The Fair Oaks mobile dairy exhibit made it possible for students to learn about milking and churning butter.

“I learned a lot,” Mia said. “I learned how to make butter and had a lot of fun.”

Harden, who has been involved with the event for 14 years, said she thinks it’s a great learning opportunity for the children.

“Being outdoors and having a hands-on setting is good for the kids,” Harden said. “Even though it was cold, everyone had great attitudes and learned.”

Lessons Learned

Many teachers agreed that the stations took what students were learning in class through science standards in a textbook and helped them be able to understand it.

Melissa Griggs, a fourth-grade teacher at Suncrest, said the event takes science standards they learned in class and puts them in a real-life learning opportunity.

“The event is geared toward the kids and is very applicable to where they live in Frankfort,” Griggs said.

Stephanie Franklin, a teacher at Green Meadows Intermediate Ele mentary School, said although the students live in a small town, it doesn’t mean they know about farming or agriculture.

“I never learned how important farming is until I started teaching in a small community,” she said. “A camp like this shows them the importance.”

The camp can also show students possible career options, Franklin said.

“Being able to show them the big picture is helpful for them, and seeing the presenters can give them ideas for what they want to do in the future,” she said. “The more you can teach them about the real world, the more options they have.”

Alyssa Geswein, a fourth-grade teacher at Suncrest, said the event was an important learning opportunity.

“My dad, who is a farmer, would say it is important for kids to know what they are eating and where it comes from,” Geswein said. “I agree with him.”

Workshop leaders also spoke of the importance of children learning about agriculture, farming and conservation.

Many stations, including the swine production station, became a learning experience for kids. Clark Beard, Farm Bureau board member, usually brings pigs to the event each year, but because of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus affecting piglets, it wasn’t a safe.

Instead, Beard used the opportunity to talk about the virus, as well as other facts about pigs and how they’re raised.

Beard said the camp teaches kids where food comes from.

“A lot of kids don’t get out of classroom, and teaching them how involved agriculture is by showing them first-hand is a great learning opportunity for them,” he said.