Agsplosion festival brings agriculture to area students

More than 600 elementary students from around the area got a hands-on education recently about Nebraska agriculture. 

The young learners spent the day rotating through stops about corn, soybeans, pigs, dry edible beans, wheat, beef cattle, irrigation, dairy, ag careers, and ag technology. Educators and assistants from Nebraska Extension led the activities. Some of what the students learned:

  • Swine: The basics of swine life cycle and production; and how pigs are raised to produce safe, quality meat for consumers.
  • Corn: How the No. 1 crop produced in Nebraska is planted and grown; about the three main types of corn produced in the state; and products from corn, such as popcorn and ethanol.
  • Wheat: How winter wheat is grown and harvested in the Panhandle; how wheat is ground up to make flour; and the difference between whole wheat and white flour. They also got to grind their own flour using pestle and mortar sets. 
  • Potatoes: How potatoes go from farm to factory, and how their nutritional value depends on how they are cooked; and that 85 percent of the potatoes grown in Nebraska are made into Lay’s potato chips. 
  • Animals and Machinery: Students got to pet live animals and see machinery at work; learned about animal products and by-products; about the importance ag technology plays in the production of crops.  in the United States.
  • Beans: The importance to Nebraska of soybeans in central and eastern Nebraska and dry edible beans in western Nebraska; both crops are sold within the U.S. and internationally for human consumption; and soybeans are also an important component of animal feed rations.
  • Beef: The nutritional value of beef that is rich in Protein, Vitamin B and Iron; also by-products supplied by cattle, including leather, medicines, lotions, and gelatin. 
  • Dairy: The process of milk production from feed to refrigerator; samples of cheese sticks provided by the Oshkosh Heifer Development.
  • Irrigation: What irrigation is and why it is so important to Nebraska agriculture; how irrigation technology has changed over time; and how those changes have improved our water-use efficiency. 

Sponsors and other supporters provided financial support, use of facilities, farm equipment and live animals for the events. They include Nebraska Corn Board; Prairie Winds Community Center at Bridgeport; 21st Century of Bridgeport and Sidney; Walther Farms; Jaz Henderson; Alliance Tractor and Implement; Bridget and Kevin Johnston; Box Butte Ag Society; Western Nebraska Community College; Titan Machinery; Narjes Cattle Co.; Joe McNurlin; and Jim Mracek.