Program brings farm families to classrooms to promote ag | Agriculture news

RAPID CITY, SD (AP) — As Danya Buseman and her husband DJ Buseman fielded questions from curious fourth-graders, some of the queries focused on small details. And then there were those that spanned a larger space.

“Is it fun to farm, or is it hard?” asked one student.

“It’s both,” said DJ Buseman. “There are good days and bad days – like everything. When the weather’s good, it’s a lot better.”

The Busemans, speaking to students in South Park Elementary School, are participating in Ag United for South Dakota’s program. The program has been operating for about 10 years throughout the state, according to a news release from Ag United. It connects farmers with fourth-graders through a series of monthly videos along with in-person visits, the Rapid City Journal reported.

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Heidi Zwinger, outreach director for Ag United for South Dakota, said the Adopt A Farmer program creates “a way for the kids to find a little bit of a connection to agriculture in South Dakota and where their food comes from.”

DJ Buseman is a fifth-generation farmer on a farm in Canistota focusing on cattle, sheep and grain. Danya Buseman works as training coordinator at Hefty Seed in Baltic. She also does work on the farm.

Throughout their presentations, the Busemans passed around some of the objects that emerged from the farm, such as wool or corn, for the students to touch.

The Busemans also talked about the way ordinary objects emerged from farm products such as soybeans.

“These are some of the things that come from soybeans,” Danya Buseman told the class. “We’ve got paint, we’ve got candles, tires that people use for their cars or bicycles…”

She mentioned food, too, including baby formula.

Late in the session, the Busemans began discussing possible careers the students might pursue in agriculture. DJ Buseman said that his college degree was in animal science.

“I came home to farm, but if I’d wanted to, there are several other things I could have done,” he said. “A common thing would have been a livestock nutritionist. So, I could have been the person that put all these (foods) together.”

The Busemans visited the combined fourth-grade classes of Ashley Holmgren and Becka Hewgley, touching on some concepts the students were exploring in different contexts.

“In our reading curriculum this week we were talking about organic farming, so it tied in pretty well,” Holmgren said, noting that learning about farm work also helped their science lessons.

After the session was over, Danya Buseman recalled some of the details that children really seemed to scrutinize.

“The details they pay attention to are kind of amazing,” she said, recalling some students’ interest in the process of wool packing.

She explained the process as taking place with “a big burlap sack that you hung down and would kind of jump into to pack it down.”

DJ Buseman had described the process earlier, while the students were listening. Students became excited and said things like, “That sounds fun.”

“It’s not fun at all,” DJ Buseman replied to them, eliciting chuckles throughout the room.

There’s now a machine they can use to do that, the Busemans explained.

After the session, DJ Buseman sounded a note of optimism regarding career prospects for would-be farmers – even those who haven’t grown up working on a farm.

“I would advise them to try to work for a farmer, and maybe an opportunity would arise that way,” he said. “There may be other opportunities through (USDA) Farm Service Agency and other programs.”

But the need for help that some farmers are experiencing could nudge the door open to young farmers, DJ Buseman suggested.

“Farmers are getting to be an older generation, and farm help is hard to find right now,” he said. “There’s a demand for farm workers, and that could lead to something bigger and better.”

For copyright information, check with the distributor of this item, Rapid City Journal.

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