ProAg of Renville County

2014 Harvest Field Day


Tuesday October 14th 2014
Alternate date Tuesday October 21st.

To help develop and promote a better understanding of livestock and crop agriculture and the importance it has on our communities in Renville County.

The 4th Annual Renville County Harvest Field Trip is inviting elementary students from school districts that service Renville County (BOLD, St. Mary’s, Buffalo Lake - Hector, Ceder Mountain, Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop, Renville County West and Redwood Valley)

Area 6th graders are invited to attend the 4th Annual Fall Harvest Field Trip. Reservations for this event will be taken on a first come first serve basis up to 5 buses. Each school group will have a maximum of $750.00 available to cover the cost of the day trip. Attendees of this event will also need to bring along their lunch and drinks.

The site visits will be very similar to those of the past events which have included, a dairy farm operation, sugar beet and corn harvesting, a goat farm and the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Co-Op.

Area students and teachers, along with knowledgeable members from ProAg and the Ag & Renewable Energy Committee (Ag/R.E) will spend the day touring harvest and agricultural sites throughout Renville County during the time of the year that farmers refer to as “the fun part”. Members of the Pro Ag Board and Ag/R.E. Committee will be on the bus to help facilitate the tour, encourage a better understanding of farms, harvest and livestock and answer questions.

A workbook will be provided to the students in preparation for the field trip. Portions of the workbook will be encouraged to be completed prior to the event, during the event and following the event. Teachers are strongly encouraged to provide Ag education to the participants before the trip, visit for additional resources or contact your district’s FFA chapter for assistance.

This field trip is a result of efforts from the ProAg of Renville County and the Ag/R.E. Committee and their desire to educate elementary students about farms and livestock. The focus of the field trip is to increase the understanding of daily farm operations, to expand the knowledge of where food comes from and to promote Ag leadership in area youth.

15 October 2014, 6th grade farm tour  By Dick Hagen


An exciting 225 Renville/Redwood County 6th graders got an up-close and personal education about the amazing agriculture of Renville County on Tuesday, October 14.  They participated in the annual Farm Tour sponsored by ProAg of Renville County.  And putting it mildly, these kids witnessed the tremendous diversity of Renville County which continues to make this county one of the ‘agricultural treasures’ of Minnesota agriculture. 

With students from Redwood Falls, Cedar Mtn/Morgan, Buffalo Lake/Hector and Bird Island/Olivia/Lake Lillian school districts, 5 buses on a tightly scheduled agenda delivered these young people to the following agricultural ‘education centers’:

  • The huge Southern Minnesota Sugar Beet Cooperative where SMSBC specialists Kalvin Thompson and Todd Geselius told the operational story of  the 2nd biggest sugar factory in the world which employs 300 full time people; another 350 or so during the harvest and processing campaign, and processes about 3 million tons of beets each season (1500 tons/day) which results in about 7 to 8 million cwts. of fresh sugar produced every year.
  • The corn story, from seed to harvest to bin at the Nere farm south of Danube with Brad Nere quizzing the students on the different kinds of corn and informing these young learners that there are 3,500 different uses for corn.  He told them the yellow corn from his fields was for feed and fuel (ethanol) but there was also white corn used in special foods such as chips and tortillas, plus sweet corn which all the kids agreed was the best corn.  But Brad said there was one more corn which everyone likes even better….Popcorn!
  • With hundreds of sheep ‘bleating and baaaaaing’ a welcome, Redwood Falls sheep producer Brad Myers shared the  challenges of feeding several thousand sheep each year while also doing battle with ravaging coyotes, the single biggest predator threat to this remarkable livestock farm.  He even let the students get a handful of feed so they could experience a sheep feeding right from their hands.
  • At Nosbush Dairy Farm, 2 miles southwest of Fairfax, Katie Gogo, Business manager, walked and talked  her new students around the extremely busy yard of this 550-cow dairy operation where a of crew 16 employees milks cows 3 times per day starting at 3:30 a.m., a ‘noon time’ milking, and the afternoon session starting at 7:30 p.m.  This same crew feeds and cleans manure and handles dozens of other jobs.  Kids soon had a better understanding that if you are milking cows you don’t get weekends for picnics and ball games, unless you’ve got good help.  They learned that being a dairy farmer is a 7-day per week operation.
  • In one of Keith McNamara’s  sugar beet fields with the student bus driving right alongside the beet lifter as it was harvesting beets into an adjacent semi rig, kids viewed the unique machinery needed to get this remarkable crop from field to factory.  Keith is one of 500 growers for SMBSC and told the students his crop yield varies from year to year because sugar beets are tremendously influenced by the growing environment each season.  This year his fields are delivering about 22-24 tons per acre.

Tayler Bohlin, Bird Island 6th grader, had scads of stuff to talk about and was particularly impressed with the dairy farm visit.  “I didn’t know cows had so many babies.  And I didn’t know that good cows can give us 10 gallons of milk each day.  But when we got into the baby calf barn and saw all those babies eating at their bottle pails, I could understand why cows give so much milk.

“And at the sheep farm I learned about coyotes eating sheep.  I think the sheep farmer told us they lost 35 sheep to coyotes last year.  I didn’t even know coyotes liked to hunt sheep.”

Tayler likely spoke for all 225 students when asked “Which is more fun, being in class or being part of this Ag tour?”   Without hesitation, she shouted, “This tour is terrific.  I’d like to do it again, and real soon would be okay too.”

Ella Mages, Olivia 6th grader, thinks this tour a refreshing change of scenery and full of learning.  She explained, “Most of the time we’re sitting and fiddling with our video games.  Getting on this farm tour simply makes us more active.  There was so much new stuff to see, and touch and smell.  I now have a better understanding of why farmers are so important in providing the stuff for all our food.

“And I didn’t know that sheep can get sick.  The sheep farmer had two different color stripes on the back of his sheep.  He told us that were for two different vaccinations.  Also the wool that sheep grow is used for coats and jackets, even men’s suits.  And it takes 3 lbs. of wool to make a man’s wool suit.”

Meghan Rettke, 6th grade social teacher at the Bird Island campus, said this was her first agricultural tour.  “It was much more encompassing of the diversity of agriculture right here in our own community than I realized.  I think both myself and my students can now better relate to the role of agriculture and farmers.

“At the Sugar Beet factory we learned a 2-lb. beet produces 4 ounces of sugar and it yields a valuable byproduct…sugar beet pulp which is a major feed product for cattle.  Then at the sheep farm and the dairy farm we saw this very product being stacked in big bunker silos to be used to grow the sheep, produce the wool, and help produce the milk.

“I think it was great for our students to witness how inter-related the products of the farm are with the many foods we use every day in our lives.”

Chaperone Carlton Gustafson, long-time Renville County agricultural observer, agreed this was a first class tour giving kids the opportunity of seeing just how complex agriculture is today.  “It was both surprising and amazing to hear the tremendous amount of questions these kids were asking at each of our 5 stops.  That tells me they were noticing and learning.  And these kids weren’t bashful.  Even our farmer hosts were amazed at all the questions.  These kids learned stuff today that I think will be in their memory banks for a long time.”    

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