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Gardner Grade School takes Ag Jeopardy

MORRIS – For the third year in a row, Gardner Grade School took first place in Ag Jeopardy, an annual event sponsored by the Grundy County Farm Bureau.

The school has taken first or second place for the past 10 years.

This year’s event was held Friday at White Oak Elementary School. Saratoga School took second place at the event, and Minooka Grade School took third.

“They did it through a lot of hard study,” said White Oak’s fourth-grade teacher Sharon Sovey.

Gardner teammates Garrett Grant and Alyssa Woodworth said it was all the studying and teamwork that paid off for them in the end.

The nutrition room was the most difficult, Blake Huston said.

This is the 24th Ag Jeopardy held in Grundy County. It’s part of a nationwide education program that began in 1981 by the United States Department of Agriculture, and is the culminating event of the Ag in the Classroom program led by Yvonne Foss, the Grundy County Farm Bureau’s ag literary coordinator.

“Today, a lot of these kids are at least two or three generations away from farming,” Foss said. “And yet everybody eats. Everybody wears clothes, and everybody drives cars.”

Foss has a series of lessons she presents to the fourth-grade classes in all of the county schools focusing on corn, soybeans, dairy, nutrition, livestock and careers.

Farm bureau manager Tasha Bunting said 11 schools participate, and each one sends six of its fourth-graders to the Ag Jeopardy competition.

The teams of students went from classroom to classroom answering questions posed by jeopardy moderators and helpers posed.

Volunteers Russ Higgins and Karen Zelko asked some “arithmootic” questions in the dairy room.

Walnut Trail students had to calculate how many cows Dr. Quelling had on his farm, based on a graph.

They also had to hold up “bull” or “no bull” signs for some true and false questions and sort out which Beanie Baby animals were ruminants.

The Coal City Elementary School team had to choose names of people who had something to do with soybeans.

Henry Ford was a surprise answer to some of the parents who were watching. Ford used soybean oil to run his cars, the moderators said.

Jeff and Charissa Dehler, parents of Coal City fourth-grader Riley, said they were a city family and were learning ag facts alongside their son during the school year.

“We know more about corn than we ever did before,” Charissa said with a laugh. “It’s important they know where food comes from and the value of nutrition.”

The Dehlers said the most difficult part of Ag Jeopardy was probably the nutrition section.

The team seemed to have the most fun in the dairy section, they said, working well together as a team.

Zan Higgins, moderator of the nutrition section, lightened things up by telling the students a story about her family farm.

Their cow just gave birth to a little white baby calf with red fur around its ears, she said, and it looked a bit like a bunny.

So now its name is Bunny the Bull. The kids got a laugh from the story.

Bob Johnson, a moderator at the event and a board member of the Grundy County Farm Bureau, said most of the kids in the area are from the city, and the annual ag education programs are a good way for them to learn about where their food and meat comes from.

The grade schools that participated in Ag Jeopardy were Aux Sable, Braceville, Coal City, Gardner, Jones, Immaculate Conception, Mazon-Verona-Kinsman, Minooka, Nettle Creek, Saratoga, South Wilmington and Walnut Trails.

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