Students get look at the farm |

Students get look at the farm

by Sharlene Irete
Nevada Appeal News Service
Shannon Litz/Appeal News Service Gardnerville Elementary School first-graders Miguel Vicentes, left, and Allen Parkins listen to the dairy presentation during the "Ag in the Classroom" tour.

Cole Liebherr has never ridden a horse but said he would like to add one to his collection of pets at home.

“I’d really like to get a horse,” said Cole, 10. “Riding a horse would be like riding a dirt bike, but you’d be up much higher.”

Cole and his fellow students at Gardnerville Elementary School visited stations around the school having to do with animals, food, soils, plants and farming equipment to become more informed about agriculture at Ag Day recently.

The event was sponsored by the Douglas County Farm Bureau, which organizes Ag Day in a different Carson Valley school every year.

“We think of this as an agricultural community, but kids don’t know about animals,” said Principal Cris Etchegoyhen. “The kids notice animals around the Valley, but they don’t know how animals affect their lives.”

Dennis Hellwinkel, who had a dairy in Fallon, began traveling to ag shows with his Jersey, brown Swiss, Guernsey, milking shorthorn and Ayrshire cows about nine years ago.

“They’re ambassadors for the dairy industry,” said Hellwinkel. “These are professional school cows – don’t try this with your cows at home.”

He and his cows went to Las Vegas in October and again this spring for ag education fairs, at which they might be seen by as many as 9,000 students in three days.

“The milking shorthorn is new this year,” he said. “Kids learn just because it has horns it must be a bull – then they look at the ‘udder’ end.”

Hellwinkel lets the children know that the black-and-white Holsteins aren’t the only dairy cows. He has to tell them all dairy cows only give white milk.

“Most kids grow up in urban areas,” he said. “As we get further away from ag, it’s more important to teach kids about agriculture. It’s important for them to understand what we do.”