July 7, 2006
Curt Mowery hopes a small investment in time now will pay big dividends later: "I think it's a win-win situation for everyone."
David LeCompte found the "Adopt a Farmer" program rewarding: "I think most any farmer would have fun doing it."
By Mike Barnett
"Dear Mr. Mowery,
"My name is Tyler. Im in 3rd grade and I'm 9. I have never been on a farm before but some day I hope I will live on one. When I grow up I want to be a farmer just like you. I know that farming is hard work but I can handle it.
Who says young minds aren't impressionable? Third graders at Stephenson Elementary in Alvin got up close and personal with two local farmers in the first "Adopt a Farmer Program" sponsored by the Brazoria/Galveston County Farm Bureau.
For farmers Curt Mowery and David LeCompte, letters like these are proof young minds can be molded, and according to them, who better tells agriculture's story than farmers themselves?
"I grew up within a few miles of this school and there was pasture and rice fields near where it stands now," said LeCompte, who noted that houses and shopping centers occupy the land now. "These kids can have a great future in agriculture...probably not farming on the land. I doubt that more than one or two out of more than 100 kids will actually be a farmer. But they are involved with agriculture and it's very important they have an understanding of it."
"I'm AJ I'm nine yeas old. I live in Alvin TEXAS on county ROAD 833. Do you use any technolige. We use it all the time. Do you ever get a lunch break?
Technology, in fact, is what allowed Mowery and LeCompte to bring their farm to the classroom. Through the Internet, Mowery and LeCompte posted digital pictures of their crops throughout the growing season on their county web page for the teachers and students to see. Students were able to track the growth of each crop their "adopted" farmer grew. Through the pictures and through correspondence back and forth by email, the students shared the problems farmers face through pictures of armyworms, feral hog damage and blackbird damage on rice crops.
"It's a really neat concept of bringing the kids as close to the actual fields as possible without really being there," Mowery said. "It sounded like something that would benefit us, but not take a lot of time, and still be able to get back with the kids and show them what all we do out here in agriculture."
"Thank you for ansering our qiestons. How do you get the water for the rice? How much water does the rice need? I want to tell you that I love rice. When my mother cookes the rice you make I gust want more and more of it.
"Your Rice-tastic Learner,
"P.S. What are rice plants called?"
A highlight of the "Adopt a Farmer" program for both Mowery and LeCompte was the classroom visit.
During that visit with the four participating classes, the farmers brought rice plants, corn stalks, soybeans and milo, along with a slide show which they reviewed and discussed with the third graders. Students were actually able to meet the farmers whom they had corresponded with since January, and were able to ask questions and discuss what farming and ranching is really all about.
"I had a lot of fun with this project. And I think most any farmer would have fun doing it," LeCompte said. "It was interesting to see who you were corresponding with all this time and meet the kids. They had a lot of questions."
Third grade teacher Angela Guidry, who spearheaded the program from the school's side, agreed.
"They (students) were really excited," Guidry said, noting that she hopes all 10 third grade classes at the school get involved next year. "The students take so many things for granted. To see all the hard work and everything that goes into just everyday things farmers use, I think it's a really good life lesson. This is definitely a worthwhile program."
The pilot program was coordinated on the Farm Bureau side by Kristin Fuller, TFB county ag coordinator, who borrowed the idea from the Ag in the Classroom website from the American Farm Bureau Federation. She brought the Brazoria/Galveston CFB board, farmers and teachers together and developed guidelines, and started the program rolling. Judging from the success of the project, she hopes to expand it next year.
"This is a chance for farmers and ranchers to tell their story," Fuller said. "The message they sent to the students: 'You may not live on a farm or ranch, you might not be doing this one day, but this is what we do, these are the issues and the problems we face, and here's how you can support us later when you grow up.' I think it's a great way to tell the whole story of agriculture, from beginning to end."
"How are you duwing. How many bruther and sasters do yue have? I hope you like my ledres (letters). Where do you git the water? How do you pay for all that stuf? I hope you like your famuley (family) trdishun (tradition).