Local farms host Ag Day for Camp Imagination

Friday, June 12, 2015
Karen Schwaller welcomes a group of third- and fourth-grade students to her family's farm in Milford Friday. Two hundred twenty-five children with Mary Treglia House Camp Imagination in Sioux City explored the farm during their Ag Day field trip. Schwaller explained how food found in stores originates from farms like hers.

Two hundred twenty-five kindergarten through eighth-grade students from the Mary Treglia House Camp Imagination in Sioux City attended Ag Day at the Schwaller Farm in Milford and Jones Dairy in Spencer Friday.

Camp Imagination Program Director Shannon Schroeder said she was inspired to conduct the Ag Day field trip by her background.

"I come from a farm family. My grandparents farmed for almost 50 years, and Dave and Karen (Schwaller) are my aunt and uncle, so the farm is something I grew up with," Schroeder explained. "All of the kids we work with at the camp are inner-city kids. They don't know anything about farming or where their food comes from. We wanted to show them that food doesn't just come from a grocery store."

Karen and Dave Schwaller, Schroeder's aunt and uncle, opened their farm up to the camp to let the children explore different types of farm equipment, play agriculture-related games, learn about the different foods farms produce and learn about grain safety.

"We wanted to expose the kids to things that they probably won't ever get the chance to see anywhere else," Karen explained. "We want to show them where their food comes from and what it takes to live on a farm. This kind of thing that we are doing is important because as a people we have become so urbanized not many people grow up on a farm anymore, there is a big disconnect on where our food comes from, we are trying to bridge that gap and help them understand."

Three miles down the road from the Schwaller Farm is Jones Dairy, a family-owned and operated dairy farm. The trip to the dairy farm gave children a chance to meet different farm animals.

Nile Skogerboe and Ben Huntley, interns with The Andersons, volunteered their time to teach children about grain safety at the Schwaller Farm.

"My son then made the suggestion that the kids should also see Jones Dairy, because so many kids never see a cow or know where milk comes from," Karen said. "Jones Dairy was on board with the idea right away. They are all about advocating for the ag industry in some way, so we formed a partnership for this outing."

"We started our petting zoo to give people the chance to come out and have a chance to interact with the animals that they wouldn't get to otherwise," Nancy Jones, of Jones Dairy, said. "It is our third year in doing this, and we were just thrilled the Schwallers thought of us for Ag Day."

According to Jones, it is important to educate consumers about where their food originates.

"We take the kids through the dairy and show them where milk comes from," Jones said. "We have to educate our consumers and these kids are our future consumers. People want to know where their food comes from so what's better than showing them the dairy? Many kids know milk comes from cows but it doesn't really click for them until they actually see it for themselves."

Children took turns trying to lift a disk on a rope out of 2 feet of corn to learn how dangerous playing in grain can be.

In addition to showing the children from Camp Imagination farm life, Ag Day also stressed the importance of the agriculture industry.

"Farming has changed a lot over the years, but the goal is the same: to feed the world," Karen Schwaller said.

Bailey Huss feeds a kid as her friends from Camp Imagination watch.
Sheila Edwards, daughter of Nancy and Pat Jones, explained the milking process to a group of kindergarten students during their tour of Jones Dairy in Spencer.
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