Scarselli students see, touch agriculture |

Scarselli students see, touch agriculture

by Sarah Hauck
Jared Harmon of the Bently Ranch talks to Ms. Crecelius and Anderson's 4th grade classes Friday at Scarselli Elementary.
Brad Coman |

Two chickens ran away from their pens, and a young dairy cow pulled from her owner’s grasp during a break at Ag in the Classroom Friday at Scarselli Elementary School.

The Douglas County Farm Bureau-hosted traveling program brought feathers, hooves, tractors and stingers to show students how agriculture influences their lives every day.

“A lot of the younger children don’t realize what’s in their own backyards,” District English as a Second Language teacher Anissa Rose said. “It is great to see what goes on behind the scenes. This program brings the sights, the smells, the sounds of everything that’s out there, right here to these kids.”

Students from DHS’s Future Farmers of America brought their projects of chickens, sheep and goats to share their purpose within Carson Valley agriculture with the elementary students.

Being part of the district for a decade, Rose enjoyed seeing several familiar faces Friday on the field of Scarselli Elementary School.

“I love seeing the older kids running the programs,” she said. “I see three kids here today that I’ve known since they were in elementary school. Seeing them as representatives of this program is heart warming to me. This and FFA are just another example of the opportunity for success the district is able to provide for our students.”

For a 4-H member, Ag in the Classroom is a time to share with his peers how products from cows help fill grocery store shelves.

Lander Smith, 12, shared with students his Belted Galloway calf, Theo.

“I am a talker, so I love this,” Lander said. “I like seeing kids learn, and look at the animal up close. I also like seeing them get their questions answered.”

Landers mom, Julene Smith, thinks programs like 4-H and Ag in the Classroom are a way for kids that don’t live on a ranch like her son Lander, to get hands-on experience.

She also enjoys watching reactions of the students when some of the truth is revealed behind grocery-store staples.

“Watching them cringe when they find out Jell-O comes from cows is my favorite part of his,” the Carson City resident said. “Plus, this shows kids that the food in the grocery store has to come from somewhere before it ends up on the shelves. We help teach them that there has to be ranchers and farmers to get that food to them.”

Ag in the Classroom takes over an elementary school in the district bringing exhibitors from bee keepers, to noxious weed experts to cowboys to share with students the importance and presence of agriculture in their area.

Farm Bureau President Woody Worthington said the program works directly with curriculum requirements, so students aren’t just playing with farm animals for the day.

“We are working with Teri White (Douglas County School District Superintendent) directly to insure what we bring to the kids is beneficial,” he said. “We want to be able to get ag into classrooms, just like the name says. We are a future for these kids. That’s why it is so important to introduce kids to agriculture and ranching and farming. This area is so rich in these things that if we start now, we can get them to come back and do these kinds of things in the future.”

The program rotates the seven elementary schools in Douglas County as well as the seven elementary schools in Carson and Tahoe, every 5-7 years reaching students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Fourth-graders Jack Ross and Cole Smalley felt right at home on Friday.

“My dad doesn’t necessarily ranch or farm, but he knows a lot about it so this stuff is all fun to be around because I know about it already,” Jack said.

“We ship cattle and brand them and tag them, so I like seeing the cowboy and the cows and things,” Cole said.

Both boys knew the Bently Ranch cowboy who had come to share how he cares for Bently’s herds.

Although they were familiar with some of the animals, Jack was still able to learn something.

“I like knowing about how these animals are cared for and used and knowing about their purposes for us,” he said.

Some of the presenters among the 11 stations the students visited included representatives from Bently like the cowboy, as well as Jerry Harmon explaining the workings of a tractor and baler; Buy Nevada who discussed nutrition of the products Nevada produces and a demonstration of fiber arts.

Three dozen FFA students were on hand both giving presentations and volunteering their time.

“This is a conglomeration of ag entities that operate here in the Valley that these kids should know about,” first year ag class instructor Robin Futch said. “We are all interconnected and supportive of each other and its neat to see us all here bringing ag awareness to our youth.”

The presence of the FFA members among the younger students is a way to demonstrate what the high school has to offer Futch said.

Several students brought their supervised agricultural experience projects such as goats and chickens to Scarselli.

“FFA is a lot about getting life skills that other classes don’t give you. These kids love their animals, and they understand their purpose and respect them for that. What a great way to raise our youth. Getting them back to their roots of understanding what’s involved in getting meat and milk and cheese to our grocery stores, and teaching them to respect the process. There’s nothing better.”