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Students get a look at life on the farm

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 9:33 a.m. CST
Caption
(Debbie Behrends - dbehrends@shawmedia.com)
Steve Ward of Old Elm Farms, Sycamore, shows students a pig that has just arrived on the contract wean-to-finish operation. Ward said pigs arrive when they are about 14-17 days old and weigh about 15 to 17 pounds. He said they will stay in the nursery until they weigh about 50 pounds.

About 125 eighth-grade students from Sycamore Middle School got a chance to visit area farms on Friday, Oct. 18.

Rhodora Collins, ag literacy coordinator for the DeKalb County Farm Bureau, said this is the 13th year SMS students have taken this field trip, thanks to some financial assistance from the Farm Bureau for transportation.

Buses took the students in small groups to the Esmond dairy farm of Otto Heisner, the Kirkland beef feedlot of Tracy Jones and the Sycamore Old Elm Farm contract wean-to-finish hog operation. A fourth stop in the tour took them to the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Center for Agriculture for hands-on activities. Sycamore High School FFA members, who helped with the activities, also provided a presentation about what it’s like to be involved with agriculture and the student organization.

Terri White, a retired Sycamore Middle School teacher, was on hand at the Farm Bureau to set up the displays.

“I think the kids get a lot out of this. Even though we live in DeKalb County, surrounded by farms, a lot of the students have never been to a farm. I remember one kid was surprised by how big dairy cows get,” White said. “They just don’t know, and this gives them an opportunity to see different things.”

Heisner said he frequently hosts visitors, both children and adults. With the help of his son, Patrick, and farmhand Kevin Rundle, Heisner milks about 85 cows twice every day, along with growing much of the hay and grain they feed the cattle.

“We do this to promote our product. If we don’t do it, no one else will,” Heisner said.

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