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Sharing a farm and memories with studentsPosted Thursday, May 24, 2012, at 3:06 PM
It's hard to imagine now, but at one time, I had never been to a farm.
So, I remember vividly the few times I went on farm field trips during school. I can't remember the farmers, or even where the farms were, but I still can picture the wide-open spaces, animals and fresh air.
I loved it.
Since 1995, thanks to Pete and Lorene Solomon, their daughter-in-law Ronna Solomon and her fellow fifth-grade teachers at Bueker Middle School, approximately 2,300 students have had a chance to visit a farm.
Although it is hard to believe in our rural community, each year there are fifth graders who have never been to a farm, never fished and never waded in water trying to catch frogs, tadpoles and crawdads.
In fact, on Friday, May 11, at the annual field trip, some children were squeamish about touching tadpoles, or putting worms on fishing hooks. Others wondered if the small crawdads were "lobsters."
Some had never roasted a marshmallow on an open fire, or sat on the deck of a secluded cabin in the woods.
It is something many of us take for granted. Now I do, too.
For my children, heading to the creek, and chasing frogs and tadpoles was a daily spring-time affair. Often, we would also put out a minnow trap, loaded with a heel of bread, and then return to check it the next day. Usually, it was full of crawdads, tadpoles and a few fish.
Often, we would take the tadpoles and frogs back up to the house, studying the different varieties thanks to information from the Missouri Conservation Service. Through that, I learned too, that there are many, many different kinds of frogs in Missouri, some never growing bigger than a dime. It is also where I first observed tadpoles, day by day, become frogs.
Although, we didn't fish as much as we would have liked, going to the pond was another summer ritual. There isn't much that makes a child happier than to haul in his first 3-ounce blue gill. Learning about nature, how things change and just why it's best to throw that blue gill back to "grow a little more" are lessons I wish all children could experience.
It may not be arithmetic, or geometry, or even history, but appreciating our great outdoors and wide-open spaces is important, too.
That's why taking a trip to the farm -- although commonplace to some -- is so important.
At the field trip, teachers, parents and other volunteers were not only aiding the students in having a good time, they were also teaching. And the students were learning...about invertebrates, animal tracks, even about the fine art of making your s'more just the right way. Area conservation agents helped the students cast lines into the water.
This was probably the last year the Solomons will host the fifth-grade trip, as Ronna is retiring this year.
They will miss it.
However, because of Pete and Lorene, 2,300 more students have wonderful memories of a farm -- some for the first time -- just like me.
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