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Kids get farming lesson
September 17, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Frank Marquez/Gering Citizen - Tracy Steele’s fourth graders, Austin Wiedeman, Pete Hernandez, and Alejandra Gonzalez-Orozco from Lincoln Elementary talk with Al Kukas, who asked the class to identify him an old photo he held. Kukas explained the beet harvest to the kids at the Legacy of the Plains Museum’s Hands On Farm Day.

Nearly 650 fourth graders from schools around the area stopped by Legacy of the Plains Museum last week to learn first-hand the work that went into farming during the early days of our area’s settlement.

The Farm And Ranch Museum, which is part of Legacy of the Plains, started their Farmhands on History event 19 years ago.

“When the museum opened, we realized we needed an education component to make the collection come alive,” said volunteer Nancy Haney. “The teachers usually come away saying their kids learned more at this event just because they can see how things operate. They can see how hard it is to do this work.”

The program is unique because the kids get to participate in the work, whether it’s shelling and grinding corn or lifting hay bales.

Haney said one demonstration that kids rarely get to see is dressing a horse for work. They watch how harness and tack are put on and how they’re utilized. The kids kids enjoy the fact that a live animal is involved.

Haney also highlighted the museum’s steam engine, which is a type of power that few of the kids are even aware of. Railroads used steam engines until about 1950, when they were wholly replaced by diesel engines.

The demonstration of harvesting sugar beets took on a real significance for the students. Al Kukas, who’s 92, told them about when he was child, showing a picture of he and his brothers crawling in the field, thinning beets by hand.

“Al has a personal connection to the beet industry,” Haney said. “The kids got a better understanding of how everyone in the family was involved in farming. They weren’t out running around and riding their bikes, they had to work.”

FARM works in conjunction with Educational Service Unit 13 to make the program available to all schools in the service area, which Haney said is a real plus for everyone.

Farmhands on History is scheduled just prior to the museum’s annual Harvest Festival, now in its 19th year. The public is invited to come out on Saturday and Saturday for an educational experience in how farming was conducted historically. Admission is $3 per person. For more information, call 308-436-1989.

Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - Tim Maxie watches Chloee Hesse as she tries to pitch hay. Classmates Jonelle Maurer and Natalie West watch and learn.
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