Palmyra Elementary School teacher receives grant from Marion County Farm Bureau to show where food comes from

A Palmyra Elementary School teacher just received a boost through Marion County Farm Bureau, as she prepares to show students in her after-school science club where their food comes from.

Judy Lemons leads an after-school science club for first through fourth grade students, encouraging them to discover the science around them with a hands-on approach. Thanks to a mini-grant from the Missouri Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculuture for teachers connecting students with local agriculture, Lemons will be showing her students this fall how local agriculture brings food to grocery stores and dinner tables — through activities like dissecting lima beans, planting lettuce and raising green pepper plants.

Marion County Farm Bureau President Joe Kendrick presented the mini-grant check to Lemons, which will help her purchase items like plants, pea pots and soil for her upcoming project. She said will teach kids what biodegradable items look like beginning in November. Kendrick shared an interesting fact about John Deere tractors — the exterior plastic panels are made from soybeans. For the past 20 years, the Missouri Farm Bureau has awarded competitive grants for in-class education about agriculture. In 2017, the 64 mini-grants will help provide knowledge to 1,900 Missouri students.

Lemons recalled how she received the opportunity to teach her club all about the importance of local agriculture. Marion County Farm Bureau Board member Lacey Miller assisted Lemons in 2016 as her mother’s helper in first grade science club. Miller told Lemons about the grant through the Marion County Farm Bureau, and Lemons jumped on the opportunity.

Lemons said she has taught science for more than 30 years, and she appreciates the freedom to choose topics for each of her science club members. She is currently teaching second graders all about geology — one of the projects involves layered cookies to demonstrate sedimentary rocks.

“I love working with kids, and Palmyra Elementary School allowed the opportunity for me to do the after-school science program,” Lemons said. “And after I retired from teach from Hannibal-LaGrange, it’s good. I’ve always worked with kids, and I didn’t want to give that up yet.”

Lemons was grateful for the opportunity the Marion County Farm Bureau offered so students could learn how local agriculture producers grow and raise the food they eat each day.

“We’re going to be learning about where our food comes from,” she said. “So many of these children don’t live on farms, don’t have gardens. I want to help them understand that when they go to the grocery store, they should thank a farmer, because they grew the food for them. It doesn’t just appear magically. It’s something that somebody has worked to grow.”

Two students in Lemons’ science club, second grader Reed Miller and third grader Wyatt Augspurg, looked forward to about the upcoming food unit after learning some cool facts about volcanoes and reptiles. Miller said he was looking forward to asking his mom if he could sign up for the club again.

“I just really like science,” he said. Augspurg agreed with his fellow science enthusiast.

“It was really fun,” Augsburg said. “We got to do a lot of experiments and learn about a lot of stuff. [Mrs. Lemons} was really fun because she would get things for us, just so we could do the science experiments, and she was really nice.”

To learn more about the mini-grant program or education programs through the Missouri Farm Bureau, please contact Diane S. Olson at 573-893-141 or at dolson@mofb.com .

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com