Down On The Farm – Washington County Farm Bureau “Ag In The Classroom” Takes Area Students To A Working Dairy

    Dairy Farmer Mike Chwasczinski visits with the students before the dairy tour at Maple Hill Farm.

By Deb Sauerhage Lehde

    Local students had a chance to learn about dairy farming during a recent dairy tour hosted by Washington County Farm Bureau.

Kindergarten, first and second grades from St. Ann’s in Nashville, and first and second grades from Trinity St. John in Nashville, visited Maple Hill Farm in rural Ashley.

Nashville High School FFA members manned several educational stations, including a dairy calf that students could pet.

Farmer Mike Chwasczinski opened his barns to 44 students 10 adults from the schools.

“When only two percent of the U.S. population consists of farm families, it becomes increasingly important to share agriculture’s story,” said Bradley D. Conant, Farm Bureau Certified Manager (FBCM) for Washington County Farm Bureau. “Mike Chwasczinski and Maple Hill Farm in rural Ashley are doing just that.”

Joyce Fikri, LDN, nutrition educator from St. Louis Dairy Council also talked to students about dairy and nutrition.

Joyce Fikri, LDN, nutrition educator from St. Louis Dairy Council talked to students about dairy and nutrition. Fikri encouraged students to get at least three servings of dairy a day.

“Dairy foods are packed with bone-building calcium,” Fikri said. “Be sure to get three servings of milk, yogurt or cheese every day for strong bones and teeth.”

The students, teachers and adult chaperones all enjoy the tour.

Students made a Dairy Farm Charm bag to help them remember what dairy cows eat and how the farmer cares for the cows.

“Farmer Mike never disappoints,” said St Ann School Kindergarten teacher Valeria Bauza. “The students enjoy all the animals and demonstrations of the work that goes into dairy farming.”

Thirteen members of the Nashville High School FFA helped with the set up and tear down and assisted with the tour by offering additional lessons on dairy farming, farm safety and animal care.

Volunteers from Farm Bureau also offered additional support.

Students also learned about equipment used in dairy farming and farm safety.

“The FFA students and other volunteers are always so helpful and understanding with the students,” Bauza said.

Chwasczinski, a Washington County Farm Bureau member, has a long history of opening his farm for educational tours.

A group photo of St. Ann and Trinity St. John students, along with NCHS FFA volunteers and Dairy Farmer Mike Chwasczinski.

In addition to opening his barns, Chwasczinski recruits neighbors to bring additional livestock. This year the petting zoo included rabbits, chickens and goats.

“Mike has welcomed elementary classrooms from across the county to tour his dairy farm for over 25 years,” Conant said. “Hundreds of kids from Washington County have been able to see first-hand where their milk, cheese and other dairy products come from while interacting with the numerous farm animals from Mike and his neighbors. A big thank you to Mike, his family and employees, and all the volunteers for their dedication in bringing agriculture to the youth of Washington County.”

The tour ended with cookies and milk.