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Here in the heart of the Midwest, we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by agriculture. Most people understand that their food is raised by Iowa farmers before it is processed and then placed on grocery store shelves to be purchased. What people may not be familiar with are the steps that happen to raise the grain and livestock commodities in the first place.

This is the side of agriculture that students participating in the Prince of Peace Ag Club get to experience firsthand. This Ag Club was started in conjunction with the Clinton County Farm Bureau and takes place every Friday morning before school. At the beginning of the semester the students voted on what agricultural topic they wanted to cover first. It was no surprise that livestock came to the top of the list. The group decided to start with cattle and lessons in anatomy and dairy breed identification soon followed.

Students had the opportunity to visit the robotic dairy, Cinnamon Ridge Farms, located in Donahue, Iowa. On this tour, they viewed a uniquely automated milking system that identifies the cows by a collar they wear around their neck. The cows come into the parlor on their own and are milked without the assistance of humans. This allows the cows to be milked at more regular intervals, like a cow who is raising a calf.

In addition to the robots, the students saw the cheese-making room where fresh cheese is made on site and sold in the farm’s store, the Country Cupboard. The tour concluded with a visit to the dry cow barn and pictures at the calf pens.

The reason it is so important to expose students to agriculture firsthand is because there is a lot of incorrect information out there about farmers and how animals are raised and cared for. By experiencing the farm on a personal level, the students can see how well the animals are treated and how the treatment directly impacts their levels of production. The better they are treated, the more milk they produce.

The milk produced by the cows will be put to the test in the next few weeks as the members of the Prince of Peace Ag Club use it to make homemade butter and mozzarella, and to compare it with milk produced by other animals such as goats.

For more information about bringing agricultural opportunities to your child’s school, please contact me at jenna.stevens@ifbf.org.

Jenna Stevens,

Ag Club Adviser