There are some lessons that students just can't learn in the classroom — and one of those is about life on the farm.
So on Oct. 8, more than 70 fourth and fifth graders from Clara Barton Elementary School in Chicago made the trek to a working hog farm in Yorkville, IL, to get a firsthand education in agriculture and discover the source of some of the foods they eat every day. State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-31st District) accompanied the students on the trip.
During their field trip to Kellogg Farms, sponsored by the Illinois Pork Producers Association, the students got to view a modern pork production facility, including the farrowing rooms where piglets are born. They also learned how corn and soybeans are ground to make feed at the farm's feedmill and got to sit in the driver's seat of a huge tractor.
“Most of our students have never been to a farm before,” says Kim Otto, fifth grade teacher at Clara Barton Elementary School. “This is a rare opportunity for them to see firsthand where their food comes from and to better understand what it is like to live and work outside the city.”
John Kellogg, a fifth-generation farmer, his wife Jan and their son Matt have hosted hundreds of tour groups at their 1,300-acre farm where they grow crops and raise pigs, farrow-to-finish.
The Kelloggs partner with the Kendall County Pork Producers and the Kendall County Farm Bureau to host student field days, along with other activities designed to educate the general public about the importance of pork production.
Seventeen years ago, the Kelloggs' vision and leadership helped create “Teachers on an AgriScience Bus,” a nationally recognized program to educate suburban teachers about various aspects of agriculture, including pork production.
“We know that many kids — and adults, too — don't know how animals are raised or what's involved in modern farming,” says Kellogg. “These tours allow us to show people how we provide the best care for our animals to ensure high-quality pork for consumers, while also caring for the environment. The students ask great questions, so we know they are taking it all in. We are helping the next generation to be well-informed consumers.”