Local students get hands-on agriculture, natural resource lesson

Riverview Elementary students crowded into the rabbit pen to quietly await their turn to hold a bunny at the petting zoo station during Agricultural and Natural Resource Day. Throughout the day, student rotated to different stations across Cran-Hill Ranch to learn about animals and the environment. (Pictured) Adalie Smith carefully holds one of the rabbits before passing it on to a classmate. (Pioneer photo/Meghan Gunther-Haas)

RODNEY — Students eagerly explored the grounds of Cran-Hill Ranch on Wednesday, stopping at 13 different stations to learn everything from beekeeping to milking cows to invasive plant species and more.

Mecosta Elementary students (from left) Jersey Prill, Logan Jackson and Landon Warner look through a collection of Petosky stones at the Michigan rocks station. At this table, students could dip the stones in water to see the patterns.

Switched from it’s springtime date to accommodate more schools, the focus of Agriculture and Natural Resource Stewardship (ANRS) Day is giving children opportunities to learn about animals and the environment through hands-on activities.

“The students spend the whole day going session to session,” said Tarin Minkel, Mecosta County 4-H coordinator. “They learn to preserve the environment for the future.”

Multiple organizations and individuals volunteered their time to teach a station at the event, which was hosted by Mecosta County 4-H and the Mecosta County Farm Bureau. Every 15 minutes, the 325 students, their teachers and chaperones from Big Rapids Public Schools, Chippewa Hills School District, Morley Stanwood Community Schools and homeschool groups rotated across the grounds.

Throughout the day, students learned about animal pelts and furs from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources; healthy soils, tree identification, predators and prey, Great Lakes fish and nutrition to build healthy muscles, all from the Michigan State University Extension; different Michigan rocks from the Big Rapids Rock and Mineral Club and more. ANRS attendees also were treated to a wagon ride and could visit the petting zoo during their trip.

“A lot of students don’t have the opportunity to do these things,” Minkel said. “Our job is to educate the students in a fun and exciting way to hopefully motivate them for the future.”

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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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