Teachers from Cook County got a recent opportunity to take a field trip of their own. The trip was held to educate them on the process of food going from the farm to the table.
Fourteen teachers toured dairy farms and other agricultural businesses from July 9 to 11 through a program provided through the Cook County Farm Bureau.
Elementary school teachers who participated were from schools all over Cook County, including Chicago (Carson School, Salazar, Bremen High School, Garrett Morgan); Franklin Park (East Leyden High School); Justice (Wilkins School); Oak Lawn (Richards High School); Park Ridge (Main South High School); and Riverside (Blythe Park Elementary School, Ames).
“Farmers work so hard; they’re so energy conscious …They do what they can to feed a country,” said Rachel King, a fourth grade teacher at Blythe Park Elementary School who attended the program.
King said the group visited an alpaca farm, a dairy farm, a small pasteurized milling farm, a prairie farm, a processed milk company, a winery, the Monterey Mushrooms facility and a John Deer manufacturer on the trip.
Exploring renewable energy options, King said the group visited Patriot Renewable Fuels, which uses corn to create biofuel, as well as a farmer who used turbines for wind energy.
After each visit, the bureau gave the teachers binders with information, activities and lesson plans for their students back home, so they could teach them what they learned.
“They do so much to reach out, to teach, to educate students about agriculture,” King said.
King said she found out about the program through the bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program. All fourth grade classrooms in Cook County receive an in-school field trip discussing the agriculture industry incorporating hands-on learning. King said Bythe Elementary School has had the program the past 18 to 19 years that she’s taught.
Now, not only will the students learn from the Ag in the Classroom program, but they’ll also learn from King’s first-hand perspective.
“Now that I experienced it, it’s easier to talk about with comfort to my students,” King said.