Osceola kids take part in Project RED

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Four Osceola schools recently participated in the 19th annual Project RED or Rural Education Day.

The Osceola MSU extension in collaboration with Gingrich Meadows, Rose Lake County Park, the Farm Bureau, and many speakers put on this special field trip for area fourth graders.

Only about 5-10 percent of students have been exposed to agriculture and this event’s focus is to help all students to understand where their food comes from and how agriculture affects our local community.

Jacob Steig, a 4H program director remembers being at the third annual event and commented on how he is proud to be a part of the planning process now. Several different stations were set up at the park and farm for the classes to rotate throughout the day learning about topics such as dairy farming, wild turkeys in Michigan, preserving natural resources and rural safety issues.

Butch Ruppert talked to the children about draft horses and their uses throughout history and modern day. He even let an eager student steer his majestic horse. A new station for this year’s event was presented by Shannon Ludquist and Renee Bisel of the MSU office. They quizzed the classes on dairy nutrition and the importance of getting enough calcium as a youngster.

Also new on the agenda was the rural safety education regarding ATVs and boating.

Of course for majority of the fourth graders, the best part of the day’s events was actually going through the dairy farm and learning all about what goes into getting the milk they drink everyday. They got up close and personal with calves and learned what they need to grow up healthy.

Then the classes rotated through the milking parlor and tried first hand milking a cow. Milking by hand is just about a thing of the past now with so much of the process being electronic, so for the children to be able squeeze milk by hand was a treat. Also at the farm they learned what it takes to feed a cow, from calculating the mixtures to sending it down the conveyor belt to the feeding station.

The station that got the most comments and chuckles was the presentation on manure management by Jerry Linquist. Once the young people got “gross” out of their systems, the children, and adults too, were fascinated to hear how much liquid manure is produced in one day by the 250 cows and 240 heifers in one day: 4200 gallons total.

It was even more fascinating to find out how much that was worth in dollar amount to the farm.

“We had great weather and great presenters, and we are looking forward to our 20th anniversary next year,” said Steig.