Cultivating a culture: West Branch students look at agriculture

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Mary Fannin
Mary Fannin, from Farm Credit, shows students silage that is fed to the dairy cows. (Submitted photo)

West Branch third-grade students got a behind-the-scenes look at agriculture during an annual farm field trip, in May, hosted at local farms in partnership with the district’s high school vocational agriculture program. 

The farm field trip is a partnership between the West Branch High School vocational agriculture program and local farms that began 30 years ago with Kevin Martig, of Martig Farms, who was a sophomore in the West Branch ag program at the time. 

“Kids need to come out and see a farm,” Kevin Martig said. “They need to know where their food comes from.” 

West Branch students
Students interact with a calf at Martig Farms. (Submitted photo)

The field trip gave youngsters the opportunity to interact with high school students from the district’s vocational agriculture courses as they toured two Beloit, Ohio, farms — Martig Farms and Conny Farms — and visited the high school ag room. 

In the ag room, students got their hands dirty as they planted their own flower to take home. 

At Conny Farms, West Branch agricultural students led the third-grade groups through the farm where they talked about grain farming and got to see horses, goats and even long-horned cattle. 

Local representatives from other agricultural support services led some of the student tour groups through Martig Farms. 

West Branch High School students
High School students in West Branch’s agriculture classes guided younger students in planting a flower to take home. (Submitted photo)

Mary Fannin from Farm Credit and Brian Beck from Witmer’s Feed and Grain fielded student questions and shared their knowledge of the industry as they guided students through the many stops within Martig’s dairy and birdseed operations. 

“Most of these kids — even though they are from an agricultural community — don’t get to get this close to it,” said Fannin, who led some of the third-grade groups through the tour at Martig Farms. 

Students learned about dairy cows — including about silage and that cows have four stomachs — as they walked through the barn where dairy cows are housed. 

Beck shared with students about how he uses math to calculate the food needed for the cows at Martigs — projecting what they need, keeping track of what they have, and helping to formulate feedings based on the nutritional needs of segments of the herd. At the milking parlor, students learned about the journey milk takes through the parlor — from the cow, through cooling equipment and into a truck for transport to a processing facility. 

The students had the opportunity to enjoy some of the end-products including milk and cheese sticks from Turner Dairy, and ice cream provided by Columbiana County Dairy Boosters. 

(Information submitted by Virginia Molnar, West Branch School District.)

West Branch third-graders
West Branch third-graders ventured out to two area farms and the high school ag room for a field trip to learn about agriculture, May 9. (Submitted photo)

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