WAUPUN - There are certain things that are a rite of passage each spring, the first flowers blooming, the hum of tractors in the fields and the Waupun FFA Day On the Farm program.
For 20 years the Waupun FFA members have worked diligently to create a program for the Waupun School District elementary students to attend. The program has changed over the years. What was once a one session event with four stations, has evolved into a two-day event, hosting six sessions with six diverse educational stations for the kindergarten through 4th graders to attend.
“I remember the first year we hosted this event. I had to call in favors from teachers to convince them to come to our Day On the Farm”, stated Tari Costello, Waupun FFA Advisor. “Our students really had to work hard to “sell” the importance and quality of the program that they had created”.
The programs hosts about 800 elementary students over the two days. Logan Pluim, Day On the Farm Committee chairman is proud of the work that the chapter members did.
“We start working on this event back in January. Our first job is to select a host farm. We had a terrific host this year, Mike and Robyn Pluim,” he said. "The Pluim farm provided a beautiful backdrop for this event."
This year students rotated through six stations covering the topics of Farm to Table, Livestock, Dairy, Horticulture, Honey Bees and Ag Equipment Safety. At each station students participate in interactive sessions that have them up and moving around learning about the many facets of the agriculture industry.
Students leave the farm with a bag full of goodies that will remind them of what they learned. The bright yellow bags with the blue FFA emblem are filled with an activity book, pencils, erasers, a honey stick, string cheese and more.
"It’s not just the students who enjoy the event," 4th grade teacher, Julie Schmidt said in an email to the FFA members, “ I wanted to take a minute to personally thank you for all the hard work that goes in to the Day On the Farm. This was my first year going and it was AWESOME!! The FFA members were so poised and confident in their presentations, I was amazed. It was wonderful!”
While the goal of the event is to educate the students attending the program about the agriculture industry, Costello admits that an even greater part of the event is to see the FFA members become the teachers.
“This event is truly one of the highlights of the school year for me”, said Costello. “It is amazing to watch the members be responsible for all components of this program. The confidence that is built is awesome. The FFA members learn how to become advocates for the industry that they are so passionate about. That is a skill that they will use for a lifetime.”