A first grader at Slate Creek Elementary apparently made a decision about her future Friday morning after helping grind a little wheat into whole wheat flour.
"I want to be a farmer when I grow up, just like you guys," she exclaimed before heading back to her classroom.
It's those comments that make Margaret Goering and Carole Schlender smile. The duo represents Farm Bureau of Harvey County and spent their morning at Slate Creek Elementary Friday using a small wheat grinder making flour with elementary school children — a celebration of Kansas Day.
Kansas Day is the birthday of the state, celebrated Jan. 29.
"We are doing this with every grade today," Goering said. "Because it is Kansas Day, we are talking about wheat. Part of our mission is to educate people about agriculture."
She and Schlender did more than help students grind flour into small bags for their teachers. They started by showing wheat seeds, stalks and photo to teach children about how wheat is grown.
The compared it to a big garden, something that students may be familiar with.
"A lot of these kids do not even know what a farm is," Goering said.
After the presentation about how wheat is grown, each student was given the opportunity to grind a bit of flour of their own — dipping a small plastic coffee cup into a small tub of wheat and pouring it into the grinder.
Once each group of six or seven students had poured their wheat, Goering showed them the whole wheat flour they had made — and let them run their fingers through it.
"The hands-on learning is important," Goering said. "Us just speaking would not make an impression."
Goering is practiced at this — for several years she has taken her small mill to the first-grade classes at Sunset after teachers saw her use it at an ag festival.
This year she expanded her offering for Newton schools — putting out an open call. Burrton Elementary, Slate Creek, Northridge Elementary, South Breeze Elementary and Walton Rural Life Center all took her up on the offer.
At the end of the day, Goering said she hopes that the children get more out of the presentation than a few minutes of fun and a homemade whole wheat and chocolate chip muffin.
"I hope they learn that wheat is important, and what you get from wheat," Goering said.
That importance, in her mind, can not be overstated — and why Kansas Day is the time to highlight it. According to the USDA, Kansas has harvested an average of 8.4 million acres of wheat the last 10 years, averaging more than 3.4 billion bushels of wheat.
That's a lot of flour and a lot of food.
"It's important to know where wheat comes from — the bread we eat, the macaroni, the pancakes and all of that," Goering said.