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Ag Day takes place at Worthington MIddle School

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Worthington sixth-grader Lila Newman looks at soybeans during Ag Day Thursday morning at the middle school. (Martina Baca/Daily Globe)3 / 4
Nobles County Corn and Soybean Association Board Member Andrew Dierks gives a presentation to sixth-graders Thursday morning about the role of technology in agriculture. (Martina Baca/Daily Globe)4 / 4

WORTHINGTON — As a way to familiarize Worthington Middle School students with the agriculture industry, several Nobles County Corn and Soybean Association (NCCSA) board members visited the school Thursday to talk about different aspects of the industry.

Worthington sixth-grade teacher Tiffany Neugebauer was excited when some NCCSA  members approached her with the idea of having an Ag Day for sixth-graders.

“I think it’s important for kids to know more about the agricultural community because Worthington is made up of so many agricultural businesses,” Neugebauer said. “It's important for our kids who are not traditionally from a farm background to know what is around our community. When they go out of our doors they can see a farm, but they don't have any idea what it all involves.”

Four NCCSA board members — Dusty Neugebauer, Andrew Dierks, Matt Widboom and Tim Hansberger — gave short presentations Thursday morning and about a number topics related to agriculture to the students. The topics ranged from the basics of the farming process, livestock and crop insurance, up to the role of technology in the business. The foursome will visit with more WMS sixth-grade students today.

Prior to the presentations, students submitted questions so the speakers could have prepared answers. It’s hoped the presentations will help clear some misconceptions that students may have about farming and Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods, among other ag-related topics.

“They have an agriculture class, but they don’t get that until eighth grade,” Tiffany Neugebauer said. “So a lot of our kids don’t know what is growing in the fields and how that comes back to us … and how it would affect us if we wouldn't have farmers.”

According to Dierks, many students were shocked when they heard the prominent usage of technology in the farming business.

“They think about using an iPad every day in a classroom, but they don’t think of what capability could be outside the classroom — how it can record all the information or run the planter or the combine so they were really surprised it can be used and tight in that way,” he said.

Dierks’ family has been farming for many generations, and he started farming himself five years ago. He works with other farmers to implement technology in their businesses. He also thinks the in-school presentations are a great opportunity for students to know about an agriculture-driven community.

“As time goes on more kids are less connected to farming, so I think it’s good for the kids to actually see it,” Dierks said.

He noted that iPads and drones are very helpful when it comes to recording large amounts of data or locating certain spots in the crops.  

“In today’s world, with all the technology that is available, it (technology) plays a direct role in the profitability of a farm operation because there it’s so much more information that we are able to collect  and utilize,” Dierks said.

Tiffany Neugebauer explained that many of the topics shared by the speakers are linked with material students are being taught in the classroom, such as the evolution of farming techniques.

“Our Minnesota Studies teachers have been doing a good job showing what farming looked like in Minnesota in the 1800s, and now they can compare it with what it looks like today,” she said.

She also hopes the knowledge gained by students is also shared with their parents to encourage them to buy their produce from local farmers.