SNB Spotlight: "Siouxland Ag in the Classroom" Keeps Growing

October 17, 2017

 Watch as Melissa from Siouxland Ag in the Classroom visits a live pig farm in Northwest Iowa.

Elementary children in Siouxland are learning about where their food comes from, and many are surprised to learn it’s not the supermarket.

“Agriculture is a vital part of our regional fabric,” said Melissa Nelson, Director of Siouxland Ag in the Classroom — for which Security National Bank is a proud sponsor.

“Our job is to show kids, and the community, how it ties us all together.”

In 2013, Siouxland didn’t have a dedicated program in place that connected kids to the farms that surround their small towns. That's where Nelson came in. “It all started with an email,” she said. “We kicked off with Woodbury County, and the program took off from there. Now we visit and teach thousands of kids in almost 80 elementary schools in seven counties.”


“SNB obviously has a profound respect for farmers and what it takes to make the industry — and our communities — successful.”

— Melissa Nelson, Director, Siouxland Ag in the Classroom


Funded by local farm bureaus and local businesses, Ag in the Classroom provides the vital link between elementary schools and the lifeblood of their local communities.

“It’s wonderful to have sponsors like Security National Bank who understand the importance of supporting area producers,” she adds. “As one of the biggest ag lenders in the area, SNB obviously has a profound respect for farmers and what it takes to make the industry — and our communities — successful.”

Part of that success stems from helping kids become aware of how Iowa agriculture affects their daily lives. “Many of our kids have no idea how Iowa contributes to the regional and national economy—and their dinner tables,” said Nelson, who grew up on a farm in Springfield, Neb. “We play an important role in showing kids where food comes from and where it goes from here.”


Nelson and Educational Specialist Heather Collins work hard to close this gap with live videos, in-classroom demonstrations, and farmer interviews. 


Nelson and Educational Specialist Heather Collins work hard to close this gap with live videos, in-classroom demonstrations, and farmer interviews. Focused primarily on 2nd and 4th grades, they work with established lesson plans to support the teacher curriculum with a 30-minute classroom visit.

Nelson and Collins often visit and record tours of places like hog confinements, where biosecurity measures make it impossible for kids to witness pork production.

“We are always working on ways to make our interviews and tours as real as possible,” she says. “We’re even exploring virtual reality methods so kids can explore farms on their own without ever leaving the classroom.”

“I think one of the most exciting things we do is showing kids how you don’t have to be a farmer to work in the agricultural industry,” she adds. “If we can plant the right seeds now, we’re helping the industry -  the scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and business leaders it needs to keep growing and continue feeding the world.”

 

Where is Siouxland Ag in the Classroom headed next? Follow them on Facebook to find out. You can slsolisten to the latest FarmChat, or contact Melissa directly at Melissa.Nelson@ifbf.org.