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It only happens every other year.

Driving past Kuna High School, community members saw large tractors parked on the lawn and a truck towing a bed of hay bales waiting for the rush of children eager to ride.

Kuna FFA students became teachers to about 4,300 first- and second-grade students. Boise, Nampa, Caldwell students from 40 schools participated in the Agricultural Expo May 8-11 at the high school.

“My class really enjoyed getting to see all of the different animals,” Haley Mahler said in an email. Mahler teaches second grade at Cynthia Mann Elementary School in Boise.

“Having the opportunity to touch many of (the animals) was very engaging,” Mahler added. “The students appreciated getting to ask lots of questions and explore things that they might not see otherwise.”

The elementary students could pet goats, cows, sheep, horses, pigs, chicks and other animals at the expo. The students were able to see the adult and baby of each animal.

About 50 FFA students presented different aspects of agriculture to the classes.

At dairy stations, students saw cows, then ate ice cream made from cow’s milk, and, finally, watched a movie about how milk is processed.

Elementary students got to plant their own “Halloween pumpkins” at the greenhouse station.

“The general learning goal at each station was to teach the first- and second-grade students about how that aspect of agriculture affects their own lives,” said Savannah Stroebel, an FFA student who helped organize the expo. “It took our entire FFA chapter’s effort to put on the expo.”

Local farmers contributed equipment for display. Stroebel said many have been FFA and agriculture supporters for years.

Some of the learning goals include:

  • Idaho is a nationwide leader in agriculture (Idaho is No. 1 in trout production in the country).
  • Where bacon, ham, and sausage comes from (pig station).
  • How important the dairy industry is and where milk and milk products come from (dairy station).
  • How food is grown and harvested (equipment).
  • Where mutton and clothing can come from (sheep).
  • Basics of gardening and what each plant needs to grow (greenhouse). Students take their pumpkins to the classroom, where many grow over the summer break. Then, when the school year starts again, the students take their plants home.

“The students continue to learn about agriculture, even months after the expo is over,” Stroebel said. “It’s interesting to expose them to an industry (some) have never seen before.”

This was the case for some students in Jaimee Hoesing’s class. Hoesing teaches second grade at Centennial Elementary School in Nampa.

“This was a great experience for our students,” Hoesing wrote in an email. “They were able to access learning outside of the classroom and connect it to their own lives. Most of them have never seen farm equipment up close, so seeing a combine and learning about how it harvests the crops that they eat was very beneficial to them and provides them some background knowledge for future learning.”

“The FFA students at Kuna High School did an excellent job of organizing this event,” Hoesing added, “and really making it fun for younger kids.”

Alx Stevens is the reporter for Kuna Melba News. Contact her at 208-922-3008 or editor@kunamelba.com.

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