By SUSAN MYKRANTZ
LODI, Ohio — Ohio has 3,099 dairy farms and leads the country in the production of Swiss cheese. Those were just a few of the fun farm facts students in Heather Finley’s third grade class learned during a visit to Richman Farm in Lodi, Ohio.
The class visit was one of two trips awarded as the top prize in the Ohio Livestock Coalition’s For Your InFARMation essay contest. Naomi Miranda and Emma Crusey wrote the winning essays. Miranda is a third grade student at Buckeye Primary School in Medina County, while Crusey is a student at North Union Elementary School in Union County. Crusey’s class will be visiting an egg farm later this month, according to David White, executive director of the Ohio Livestock Coalition.
For Your InFARMation
The contest is sponsored by the Ohio Livestock Coalition and is part of the For Your InFARMation curriculum. For Your InFARMation or FYI was made possible through the efforts of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Ohio’s commodity groups and producers. The essay contest is part of the educational component designed to meet the state’s educational standards for science, language arts, economics and math.
Through FYI, teachers have access to a series of lesson plans, which teach the students about farmers, the economy livestock farming, keys to safe and healthy food, and careers in agriculture. The material also includes agriculturally related statistics, which students apply to mathematically related concepts such as charts and graphs.
“The Ohio Livestock Coalition realized there were not many programs educate third graders about where their food comes from, particularly pertaining to animal agriculture,” White said. “Agriculture benefits because the students learn where their food comes from, beyond the grocery store. Students are learning about agriculture at an early age.”
An added benefit is the field trip to a farm for the classmates of the student winning the essay contest. “With many school districts facing budget cuts, this may be the only chance the students have for a field trip this year,” White said.
Richman Farm is owned and operated by Dick Indoe and his sons, Tom and Bill. They farm 850 acres and raise corn, beans, wheat and hay. They milk 75 head of dairy cattle, Holsteins, Brown Swiss and Jerseys and have 125 replacement animals. They host several tours each year for groups such as Leadership Medina, the Medina County Farm Tour and Scouts and other community groups.
Deb Indoe, president of Medina County Farm Bureau, led the tour around the farm, highlighting the freestall barn designed to keep the cows comfortable year round. The freestall barn replaces a bank barn that had been destroyed by a tornado in 2008. The bank barn was rebuilt and is now used to house heifers and machinery. She also showed the students the machinery used to produce feed for the dairy.
Deb admitted that it was a busy time of year on the farm, but this field trip was important because it brought students out to the farm and helped educate them, so when they grow up and become consumers they have more respect for where their food comes from. “The media has so much power,” Deb said. “We want people to think things through, we want them to know there is another side to the story.”
Heather Finley said she found out about the contest from Holly Wright, a parent of one of her students. “Even though we are a rural school district, the students need to get out and see how farmers keep our food healthy,” she said. “This shows the students what happens from the animals to the store to the table. There is only so much we can teach in the classroom, without the students actually seeing it firsthand.”
Wright said her husband learned about the Ohio Livestock Coalition through social media, and she became a fan. When she saw the contest promotion, she gave the information to Finley. “They have no idea who raised it or how it was raised,” Wright said. “It is good for the children to seewhere the food is raised.”
For more information about For Your InFARMation, or for educational materials, visit their website at
The winning essays:
Naomi Miranda, Buckeye, Medina:
“Farmers in Ohio feed the world. The raise animals and crops that provide safe, healthy and affordable food to consumers in Ohio, across the United States, and even around the world.
“The farmers know that one of the keys is to be sure the animals they are raising are cared for properly. Caring for animals means ensuring that they have proper housing, food and medical care.
“Ohio’s livestock farms provide animals with comfortable, safe housing that will shelter them from disease and predators, and also from hurting each other. Farmers make sure their animals have plenty of fresh, nutritious food and clean water. Healthy animals produce and become healthy food that is safe for humans to eat.
“That’s why livestock farmers through Ohio make sure their animals receive proper medical care from a veterinarian — regular check-ups, vaccinations and other health problems. Proper veterinary care not only protects animals from disease – it also helps ensure the safety of our food supply.
“As a result of these steps, Ohio’s livestock are healthier than ever before and that means plenty of safe, healthy, locally grown food for you and your family! Farmers feed chickens corn and soybeans. The chickens then lay eggs. Farmers gather the eggs, clean them, inspect them, package them and ship to a store or restaurant. Products are inspected and graded by the United States Department of Agriculture, to make sure that the food is safe and good.
“So if you grow up strong and healthy be sure to thank Ohio farmers!”
Emma Crusey, North Union, Richwood:
“Ohio farmers work hard to make sure your food is healthy so you can be healthy, too. Farmers make sure animals get proper medical care. This means regularcheck-ups, medicine and vaccines.
Farmers make sure their animals are safe from natural predators and diseases. They make sure the stalls are comfortable and clean.
Farmers give their animals fresh water and plenty of food. They monitor the animals to make sure they are getting the food they need. They feed them the most nutritious food they can find that way they produce the best products.
Farmers work hard to make sure our food is safe to eat and drink. They get up early and go to bed late just so you and your family can have a safe,healthy, locally grown food.”