Day promotes agriculture

RENO – A trip to the farm can be an exciting experience for a fifth-grader – even one who calls a farm home.

“I live on a beef farm,” said Andrew Shapley, a student from New Matamoras Elementary. “I just like to come here and see what it’s like to work on a dairy farm instead of a beef farm.”

Shapley was one of 375 fifth-graders from the Belpre City and Frontier, Warren and Waterford Local school districts to tour the Schramm Dairy Farm Thursday as part of the Washington Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual Farm City Day.

“We like to promote the agriculture and the dairy business. It’s been good to us,” said Rick Schramm, third-generation owner of the family farm that’s now got a fourth generation working it. “I feel that every child here will go home with something to tell mom and dad. We want it to be something positive.”

Students rotated among eight stations, where farm employees and representatives of the soil and water district and the Washington County Farm Bureau spoke with them about topics including milking cows, feeding and caring for the animals, farm equipment, products made from agricultural sources and even manure, at an attraction cited by several children as a favorite – the “poop pond.”

Barlow-Vincent Elementary fifth-grader Millie Ryan said seeing and learning about the calves was her favorite part of the day.

“Just what they lived in … those little huts and how they feed them,” she said. “They milk the mother and they put it in a bottle and then they hang the bottle on the hut.”

Alyssa Snyder, from Newport Elementary, said the most interesting thing she heard was about how much food the cows being milked consume.

“They eat about 103 pounds a day,” she said.

The setting is an interesting one for students, as well as educational.

The goal is “to introduce the kids to agriculture and help them understand how their food is produced and where it comes from,” said Sandy Lahmers, administrator with the soil and water district. “What we try to do is include in our presentations as near to the core curriculum as we can.”

Students like Belpre Elementary fifth-grader Gabriel Stull were excited about the event, said Susan Nickoson, the paraprofessional who assists the blind student.

“He’s just looked so forward to this,” she said. “He’s been talking about it for days.”

And Stull and classmate Keadyn Tharp were eager to talk Thursday about what they’d learned at the farm.

“I learned about what footballs are made of,” Tharp said.

“It’s all, like, cowhide and everything,” Stull said, before also noting that cows only produce milk when they have calves.

There was a brief scare when a concrete barrier a couple of students were seated on fell over. The Reno Volunteer Fire Department emergency squad was already at the site and transported one child to Marietta Memorial Hospital, where it was determined she had sustained no serious injuries, Reno Chief Dan Ritchey said.