FFA Conducts Food for America

Around 20 middle and high school FFA members journeyed to Gebhardt Elementary to teach the fourth graders how the products from the farm become the products we enjoy.

High school FFA members, including freshman Destiny Farmer, sophomores Evan Markhardt, Nikkole Leisgang, Aspen Bue, juniors Nathan Gilberton, Jeremy Boehm, Dan Anderson, seniors Zachary Markhardt, Cassie Olson and Jared Bradt, did some “ag” related work.

The FFA members originally were to conduct two days of Food For America on Tuesday and Wednesday November 23 and 24, but there were some problems on the second day.

“(The road bump was) the early dismissal. We had to reschedule three of the six classes (three were on November the 23 and the second day was rescheduled for December 2),” FFA adviser Bradley Markhardt said.

The Food For America classroom program consists of two parts. First, they learn how the milk and other products of the farm they looked at during October become consumer products like cheese, yogurt and ice cream. They also get to make cheese on their own. They did every part of the basic cheese-making process, such as squeezing the whey out and adding salt.

“We showed them (the fourth graders) the farm part of agriculture in October; now we concentrated on the business side,” Markhardt said.

The fourth graders seemed lively and willing to answer. Constant shouts of “Can I do the salt?” and “I wanna do that” were in the air. The kids also were excited to take part of the presentation because if they answered a question at the end of the presentation they got a Jolly Rancher.

“It was really fun; it gets the idea of FFA ahead before they can go into it,” senior and vice president Cassie Olson said.

This Food For America program is nothing new, but the FFA always gets new faces every year as everyone gets a chance to see agriculture on a farm and know what work is needed to manufacture the goods.

“(The program has been done) quite a few years. We used to do a skit and that evolved into what we do today” Markhardt said.

It’s a simple recipe. Simply warm one cup of milk (vitamin D milk works best) to 100 degrees fahrenheit, using a double boiler system to not burn the milk. Pour the milk into a cup and stir in eight drops of rennet (an enzyme that binds the milk into cheese). Then leave it be for awhile, then add salt. The fun part is squeezing the curds (cheese) from the whey (basic staple in energy drinks and protein bars). The kids on several occasions actually drink the whey.