Students learn the farm life
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
There is no question what Kailie May wants to be when she grows up.
"A paleontologist," the Hays girl said matter-of-factly. "When I was 3, I thought dinosaurs were very interesting."
Even at the ripe old age of 9, May hasn't changed her mind about her future goals and volunteers at Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History.
So you can imagine how excited May was to tour the Harold Kraus farm Thursday for Kids Ag Day 2013, an annual event sponsored by Ellis County Farm Bureau Association for area fourth-graders.
May and her Lincoln Elementary School classmates were among 250-some students who took part in the day that featured visiting several stations and learning a little about life on a farm.
There was something about farm safety, water conservation and pollution and by-products of numerous crops and plants, including wheat, corn, soybeans and sunflowers.
One of the most popular rotations usually is a nature walk, where Kraus' son, Lance Russell, gives tours down dusty trails and amidst vegetation -- and shows them how to make a whistle out of a leaf.
"Where would you be without farmers?" Russell asked, pointing to a question on the front of a bright orange T-shirt worn by his son, Lyle, a senior at Hays High School who was helping with Kids Ag Day.
Russell had his son turn around and reveal the answer, printed in large bold letters "Hungry and Naked."
Some of the children giggled. A lot of them probably didn't understand the significance of the phrase.
May, who carries on a conversation well beyond her years, probably did.
"There are lots of creeks around here that have fossils," she said while explaining her fascination with nature, particularly on this day.
A classmate of May's in Amanda Callahan's classroom at Lincoln didn't appear quite as excited.
Carolyn Maska, a para-educator at Lincoln, asked Lorenzo Phillips what he thought of the nature walk.
"I don't like it," he said, his face twisted in concern. "I can't find any arrowheads."
His disappointment didn't last long, as he stooped to pick up a substitute off the rock driveway leading up to the Kraus farmhouse.
"Oh," he said, a smile crossing his face. "It looks like (an arrowhead)," placing it in his bag.
The learning wasn't reserved only for children on this day. Thirty teachers, parents and paras also were in attendance.
One teacher who has been to a lot of visits to the Kraus farm through the years said she never tires of the trips, and each year is a new adventure.
"The presentations are different, and the kids ask different kinds of questions," said Patti Park, in her 22nd year at Roosevelt, mostly at the fourth-grade level. "Seeing the excitement of the kids is what makes it fun for me."
Park said her students hold onto what they learn on the field trip long after they return to town.
"When we go back to the classroom, they can connect to something," Park said. "We refer to (Ag Day) throughout the school year."