Chelcie Cremer~Central MT Regional Manager
Farmers and ranchers are the world’s most conscientious environmental stewards, but we don’t often come to mind when people think about Earth Day. In a belated celebration, Miles Avenue Elementary school in Billings held their ‘Earth Day’ activities on May 25 and invited Yellowstone County Farm Bureau to participate. This was the perfect opportunity for us to visit with kids and teachers alike about where their food comes from and how environmentally conscious farmers and ranchers must be. Three county leaders, President Allan Hanley, Women’s Chair Lisa McFarland, and Board member and State Women’s Committee Chair Gretchen Schubert were on hand to visit with the kids.
Talking to 3-6 graders, Allan started the presentation with a little science lesson about photosynthesis. He visited with the kids about what the photosynthesis process is and how much people in agriculture rely on it. Gretchen followed with an explanation of dry land vs. irrigated land. ‘Dry land’ refers to crops and pastureland receiving whatever moisture nature is willing to provide. ‘Irrigation’ is the use of rivers, reservoirs, ditches, canals, and piping systems to transfer water to fields. Gretchen discussed how management practices are very different between dry land farming and irrigated farming, which dictates what types of crops a farmer is able to
grow. Lisa McFarland brought samples of oats, grains, peas, meat, and honey all grown in and around Yellowstone County and she showed the students examples of the locally made food products those crops produce. She had everything from hamburger and bread to tortillas and sugar, all of which are produced locally with crops grown by area farmers. In conclusion, we discussed agriculture in the state of Montana. Many students were surprised to learn we grow cherries in the Flathead Valley and potatoes in the Gallatin Valley. We discussed how our climate better suits the growth of livestock, grain, and hay and our climate isn’t as suited to grow things like watermelons, onions, lettuce, peaches, and other vegetables. The kids were very interested in learning more and had great questions about farming and ranching for Allan, Gretchen, and Lisa. It was a very rewarding day for all of us involved; opportunities like this provide such a wonderful environment to teach others about agriculture. Yellowstone County Farm Bureau utilized the opportunity and yielded some great results.