FFA Farmers Pride Field Day: First of its kind event gives students “real-life” experiences

BATTLE CREEK, Neb. - Students are back to school, but for some in northeast Nebraska, the classroom is the great outdoors.

"I've had a lot of fun so far," said Kali Mangelsen, Norfolk High sophomore. 

"It feels great to come out here, it's a beautiful day," said Norfolk senior Logan Bleick.

A lesson in agronomy outside in Battle Creek at the Winfield United Vision Plot on Tuesday.

"Maybe we learn about it in textbooks and in theory," said Farmers Pride Sales and Marketing Director Dave Spencer. "But out here in the field, like we are today, you're seeing some real-life stuff that's going to come back to them for future production agriculture."

150 FFA students from four area high schools including Pierce, Osmond, Battle Creek, and Norfolk are leaving the Farmers Pride field day with an earful of knowledge.

"What affects crops the most as far as getting the most yield out of your corn and soybeans," said Bleick.

Despite being in his last year, Bleick says he plans to pass on the information.

"I'm definitely planning on going back to our chapter and sharing these experiences," said Bleick.

Students visited five stations throughout the day soaking up the sun and taking notes.

"They've been engaged, and they knew a lot of the answers we asked, which was impressive," said Spencer.

Spencer said he hopes the event not only educates kids but also works to combat a growing Ag labor shortage.

"We're trying to build the future for agriculture is with the young people, in this industry that needs to recruit," said Spencer.

The latest U.S. Census data shows more than half of Nebraska's population now lives in three of its largest counties, leaving fewer people in rural areas to fill jobs.

It's the first FFA Field Day of its kind, but Spencer said it won't be the last.

"It will only grow, I think, from here because the instructors are always looking for more up-to-date industry information," said Spencer.

The students say it's an experience they won't forget.

"It means a lot and I just know that I'm making some of my ancestors pretty proud," said Mangelsen.

This event will most likely be a tradition for an every-other-year occurrence.