2nd Graders Get Hands-On Experience with #plant13

2nd grade students planting their corn

Second graders at Taft Elementary School in Humboldt, Iowa, are getting firsthand experience with planting Iowa’s number one crop as part of a project that begins with spring planting on a local farm and extends to next fall when, as third graders, they will harvest the crop they helped plant.  Throughout the summer, they’ll have a chance to follow the crop’s progress through videos posted periodically online.

Humboldt County farmers Dean and Carol Coleman, along with their son Mike, initiated this program to help 2nd and 3rd grade students understand how and why farmers raise crops.  The Coleman family raises corn and soybeans on their North Central Iowa farm.

“We wanted kids to have a chance to meet with the people who get their hands dirty every day,” says Carol Coleman, who served as a preschool teacher 20 years, plus is a mother of two and a grandmother of four.  “We want kids to be able to put a face on farmers, who provide the basics of everyday life from food on their tables, fiber in their clothing and building materials for their houses. Basically, we want to answer the fundamental question: ‘Where does my stuff come from’?”

Farmer Dean & Farmer Mike

The Colemans had the idea for the Adopt-a-Farmer program after they listened to Bruce Vincent, a third generation logger from Montana, speak about the importance of telling your ag story.

“We decided to develop a program to make others aware of what farming is all about.  Naturally, we thought of telling our story to kids.  We had hosted grade school classes in the past.  While they visited our farm, there wasn’t really time for us to explain farm operations.  The kids had fun seeing the how much a bushel weighs and what is made from corn and soybeans.  They loved climbing on the equipment and seeing the inside of the grain bin, but we wanted to create a program that would provide a more comprehensive look at agriculture.  We wanted to give kids a chance to ask questions and learn facts about farming.  We want them to see that food doesn’t just magically appear on grocery store shelves.  We want them to learn how their food is grown.”

Dean and Carol Coleman with their sons, Nick and Mike

Prior to the planting season, the Colemans visited the classroom and introduced themselves to the students.  They explained what the “Adopt-A-Farmer” program entailed and how they would like to become part of their classroom.  The Colemans have provided videos of Farmer Dean and Farmer Mike doing their jobs, so students can see what’s involved with moving rock, welding equipment & grinding metal for a hitch piece for the planter or fix the tractor’s computer.

Also via video, students “rode” in the sprayer and the planter with Farmers Dean and Mike.  Students then came to the Coleman farm and each planted 5 kernels of corn, themselves, in the field.  Throughout the summer, students and their families can drive by and literally watch their corn plants grow.  In the fall, they will come back to the farm and harvest their crop and see more things for harvest season.

“We really want all 109 students to get excited when they see crops in the field and know what is growing!  Maybe they’ll even share some fun facts, which they learned on our farm, with their parents.  We also want them to start understanding the difference between fact and fiction since the media doesn’t always accurately tell agriculture’s story.”

To help make a connection between the crops that are planted and the livestock that is raised with the food on our tables, today the Colemans are sharing two of their family’s favorite recipes for Taco Seasoning and Apricot Oatmeal Soy Cookies.  Enjoy!

Taco Seasoning Recipe


  • 3 Tbls Chili powder
  • 1 Tbls Salt
  • 1 Tbls garlic powder
  • 1½ tsp black pepper
  • ¾ tsp red pepper


  1. Brown hamburger  (can substitute ground turkey)
  2. Then add ¼ cup of water and 1¼ teaspoon of seasoning per 1 lb. of meat.
  3. Stir frequently and let slowly simmer for 15 minutes.

Try this seasoned meat on baked potato or Tostito chips with lettuce, refried beans, cheese and chip dip.

COOK’S TIP:  To break up browned hamburger into fine morsels, stir with a whisk while it’s browning.

Apricot Oatmeal Soy Cookies



  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup maple syrup or brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs (or ¼ c applesauce and one egg)
  • 1¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup soy flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup oatmeal
  • 1 ½ cup TVP texturized soy protein (gives it a crunch)
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut
  • ¾ cup chopped almonds



  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Mix butter and sugars until creamy
  3. Add next 7 ingredient and mix until just blended
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients
  5. Drop by tablespoons, 2 inches apart, on ungreased cookie sheet
  6. Bake 14-15 minutes or until tops are lightly golden brown.  Cool.


by Carol Coleman

Yields 4 ½ dozen cookies