KAHOKA, Mo. – Lessons in farm and family tradition are on the menu for fifth-grade students at Black Hawk Elementary School in Clark County.
Students learn how food gets from the farm to the table from University of Missouri Extension 4-H youth program assistant Katie Hogan, MU Extension nutrition associate Wendy Ray and teacher Rhonda LaCount.
At the end of class, students enjoy hot pancakes dripping with maple syrup and oozing with butter they made themselves.
The class connects students to a bygone era when families raised and produced their own food.
“Unfortunately we have a lot of kids, even in a rural area, who are removed from agriculture,” Hogan said. She notes that many children today have little understanding of where their food comes from.
“They may not have had the same experiences as their parents or grandparents,” she said. “It goes back to good ol’ farm values.”
Hogan thinks it’s important to pass those experiences and traditions on through hands-on activities. She takes them through a discussion on cows, about milk and cream, and how butter is made.
She sets out cream at room temperature for 12 hours before class. A small amount of heavy cream is put in condiment cups with lids. Students shake the cream until it firms and the buttermilk is rinsed off the butter.
Students then taste it and spread it on pancakes slathered with homemade maple syrup made by their teacher, Mrs. LaCount. Members of LaCount’s family gather at her cousin’s farm each February to tap trees, drain the sap and cook it down for syrup.
Wendy Ray shows students how to read food labels and talks about how butter is better for your health than margarine. She visits the classroom throughout the year to talk about nutrition.
This is the third year of the program, which is held after end-of-the-year testing is done. “It’s great that we can bring the different aspects of extension together—science, agriculture, food and nutrition, and 4-H—in this project,” Hogan said.