Approximately 120 Mora kindergartners got to see, pet and learn all about 11 different farm animals and to see an antique tractor on their visit to the Byron and Ginny Anderson farm in Knife Lake Township on May 29. The farm tour was organized and hosted for the 23rd year by Ginny Anderson, Knife River Ramblers 4-H Club leader, and 4-H club members and alumni. In those 23 years over 2000 kindergartners age 5 and 6 have visited the beautiful farmstead that the Andersons call home.
It was not always like this as Ginny’s family, the Langs, grew up in North Minneapolis. Their father and mother used to take their 10 children on Sunday road trips in different directions from the cities to see farms in the country. In 1977 the family moved to Mora south of Knife Lake. Ginny’s love for animals grew as she worked with her father on the farm with horses, sheep, pigs, chickens, geese and her dad’s favorite, Jersey dairy cows.
Long story short, Ginny married a farmer, Byron Anderson, and they raised three farm kids. She has also shared her love for children and animals by being the Knife River Ramblers 4-H Club leader for that time. She has also been the county fair sheep superintendent and has always encouraged and helped 4-H members to learn new things by raising animals. “The best thing that we grow here, I always say, are good kids,” said Ginny.
Ginny started this kindergarten farm tour in an effort to educate the next generation where food comes from and where animals live. It also was an opportunity for 4-H members and alumni who have raised and exhibited animals to show and tell the kindergartners about their favorite animals.
Ginny said, “These children come here with wide eyes, curiosity brimming over to touch, feel and smell. Their little minds soak up facts and stories about each specie of farm animal and tractors from real farm kids. I could see from afar, which ones ‘got it’ – the bug for this life we call farming.”
She added that they learn that it’s not all about petting cute animals. “Sometimes it’s tears as I explain why we have to bottle feed a lamb or calf. They hopefully realize that it’s all done out of love for this life and animals. I’ve had many kids beg their parents to come visit again and many have become the best 4-Hers,” she said.
At the tour the students had a chance to rotate with their teacher and classmates to nine different learning stations. Listed here are the animals and stations and volunteers who brought and taught each animal
Rabbits – Hailey Lankford and Casey Degraw
Donkey – Casey Degraw
Horse – LeRoy Sipes and daughter Jodi
Pigs – Dylan and McKayla Nelson
Dairy calf – Emma Coleman (Becky Steuber)
Beef – Andersons (Becky Steuber)
Chickens - Andersons- (Emma Coleman and Tanner Schiferli)
Sheep – Andersons (Rebecca Anderson)
Goat – Andersons (Grace Anderson)
Ducks and Alpaca – Kelsey Johnson
Antique 1940 Farmall tractor – Dale Hawkins
The teachers were given a scavenger hunt sheet for their class to check off each of the animals that they had seen. One teacher summarized their experience when she said, “There was a lot of work put into it. The children were so excited for it and enjoyed it all.”
Ginny summed up the day by saying, “I hope they come away with a new appreciation why farmers do what they do. Also, an appreciation for the little things, the fantastic smell of new mowed hay, the sounds of birds and frogs, the knowledge of where food comes from and my absolute favorite: the miracle of birth. I hope each child went home and shared with their parents what they saw, touched and learned today from so many of my favorite people – 4-Hers and farmers. The tour could not have continued all of these years without them.”