Grand Island fourth graders are stepping out of the classroom, and onto the farm. The Grand Island Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Day gives the students an opportunity to take a hands-on look at the state's biggest industry.
Engleman Elementary School teacher Tracy Schafer says agriculture is an important topic during the students' study of the state of Nebraska.
"They're unfamiliar with the soybeans, and what Nebraska actually has to offer," Schafer says.
It's a first glimpse for some students at how much the state's agriculture industry affects them and the rest of the world.
"The first question we ask is, is agriculture important," University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Assistant Ashley Benes says.
Benes says a lot of students say it's not important to them. That's because many students, even in central Nebraska, are many generations removed from farming.
Most of the kids haven't seen livestock up close before, and have lots of questions about the way animals are raised.
The lessons students learn on Agriculture Day are helping clear up misconceptions. For non-farming students, it can be hard to understand why animals are kept in cages or left out in the cold.
"We're removing some of that myth about the old cowboy rough, abusive ways. It's not that way anymore," rancher Ron Knodel says.
Knodel says with recent criticism of producer practices, it's more important than ever for farmers and ranchers to share the reasons behind their practices with the public, even at an early age.
"Livestock are our life, our means, and if we don't take care of them, it's not going to work," Knodel says. "When I get a chance to reach the kids, to let them know we're out there doing a great job for them, not only with the horses, but the livestock in general, that they're being handled properly and giving them a stress free life, that's a jump start on our future."