All things agricultural

Local fourth-grade classes from area schools participated in the “Ag in the Classroom” program sponsored by the Seneca County Farm Bureau Thursday at the former St. Mary Elementary School.

The program, in its seventh year, brings together area farmers, agricultural businesses and students to learn about the many aspects of agriculture, Farm Bureau President Gene Daniel said.

Several areas of agriculture were represented, including representatives from the Tiffin Farmer CO-OP Inc., Franciscan Earth Literacy Center, Ag Credit and Country Mortgages, Ballreich’s Potato Chips, Seneca County Soil and Water Conservation District, Seneca County Humane Society, Seneca County Park District, Ohio Division of Wildlife, Lane of Dreams Farm LLC and hog, beef and dairy farmers.

During the day, students spent 15-minute sessions learning about each area of agriculture. The students were from Calvert Catholic Elementary Schools, New Riegel Local Schools and Seneca East Local Schools.

Sister Shirley Shafranek, educator for FELC, spoke on the importance of organic farming.

Shafranek said the FELC has roughly nine acres it uses for farming vegetable crops and raising chickens.

Fourth-grade teacher Victoria Stillberger from Seneca East said this is her third year bringing students to the program.

“The Farm Bureau puts on a wonderful display of agriculture to educate the students,” Stillberger said.

One of Stillberger’s students, Dylan Young, enjoyed the presentation on the types of furred wildlife in the area.

Ohio Division of Wildlife Officer Matt Leibengood gave the presentation. Young said he had recently met Leibengood during a hunter safety course.

“I enjoy learning about all the different animals around here,” Young said.

Farming is not just about growing crops and raising animals. Ashley Burger, an account officer with Tiffin’s branch of Ag Credit and Country Mortgages, presented ways to help farmers on the business side.

Burger discussed what costs farmers expect when their crops are compromised by fire, flooding, drought or insects. She also talked about how much it takes to run a farm, with costs of fertilizer, herbicides, seed, equipment, land, insurance and labor.

The program is really good for students, Calvert teacher Mary Leibengood said.

“The students learn more than they think they do. They will be talking about it for weeks,” Leibengood said.

“Our intent was for kids to learn about agriculture and where their food comes from,” Chris Snavely, treasurer for the Farm Bureau, said. “The students get a chance to hear the information first-hand and not from some other media. The goal is to raise awareness on how agriculture affects everyday life.”