OSU students, urban first-graders both get a hands-on education

By Kyle Sharp

Thirty-one first-graders from the Columbus School for Girls (CSG) had a “magnificent experience” on March 9, said Linda Ostrander, a CSG teacher, when they traveled to the Ohio State University Sheep Center in Columbus for the fourth annual Food and Fiber Day.

The students spent the day at the farm learning about the food and fiber industry in the state of Ohio through a series of seven educational stations — ruminant digestion, the needs of sheep as they grow, the body parts of a sheep and how they are used to find food, byproducts, plants from seed to food, the food web, and making ice cream. Fifteen OSU agricultural education students developed the stations and organized the day as a project for their “Methods of Teaching Agriculture” course. The stations are designed to meet science standards for kindergarten through second-grade students in the state of Ohio.

“This is non-formal education, so it helps those who have an Extension emphasis or are agricultural education minors,” said Caryn Filson, an OSU doctoral student in agricultural education who does laboratory work for the course. “This is the last day of class for them, so they have been working all quarter toward this day.”

Food and Fiber Day is a follow up to a February trip the OSU students made to CSG to introduce the first-graders to agriculture.

Ostrander has nothing but praise for the relationship that has developed between the two schools.

“Most of our suburban and city children have very little experience with where our food and clothing comes from,” Ostrander said. “This really brings it down to the basics. Coming to a farm experience to learn how our food is grown and how our livestock make life better is a wonderful connection. It’s something that’s taken for granted far too often.”

Actually experiencing a farm firsthand really drives home the message, she said. And the OSU students created good lessons.

“They’ve done a fabulous job welcoming us and preparing the lessons. We had to approve the lessons, but there was very little we had to do,” Ostrander said. “We’ve been very impressed. Our students will remember this for a long time to come.”

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