Feature Writer

PAULDING – Fifth grade students from Paulding, Antwerp, Oakwood, Payne and Divine Mercy, along with home-schooled students in the county, attended the annual Fifth Grade Field Day last Friday.

Sponsored by the Paulding County Soil and Water Conservation District, the educational event was held at the Paulding County Fairgrounds and the Black Swamp Nature Center.

Upon arrival, students were divided into smaller groups of about 20 each. Each group then visited different stations, where they learned about agronomy, farm safety, wildlife, pollinators, geology, livestock production, water quality and forestry.

At the sound of the air horn, each group was then led to the next station where volunteer instructors were waiting to teach them about the various topics.

A light lunch of hot dogs, cheese crackers, applesauce, cookies and beverages was provided for the students, instructors and other volunteers through donations and sponsorships.

Patrick Troyer, education specialist for the SWCD, says he was pleased with the turnout and with the weather for this year’s event. “The rain didn’t get here until later that day,” he said. “The whole time the kids were here, the weather was great.” He says planning the event for late September is always a gamble, because the weather is always so unpredictable at that time of year. “I have to book the fairgrounds a year ahead,” he says. “So I just take a chance that we’ll be able to get it done.”

At the geology station, each student was allowed to choose his or her own geode from a bucket. While the rocks are not found in this area, the students were thrilled when they were allowed to split them open to see the minerals inside. “Look how smooth it is,” one boy was heard to say. Another commented that he wished he could find more of the rocks in this area so he could start a collection.

At the pollinator station, instructor Jamie Walters explained the different kinds of bees, why it’s important not to kill them, and how pollinators are important to all the food we eat. Students were then each given a small taste of honey, which they seemed to thoroughly enjoy.

At the wildlife station, students learned about the different types of wild animals that live in northwest Ohio and were then permitted to touch pelts of beaver, muskrat, opossum, mink and several other furbearers. While Amanda Podach, instructor from the Fulton County SWCD, showed them mounts of owls and hawks, the students were asked not to touch them as they were fragile.

Agronomy instructor Michael Schweinsberg of OSU Extension talked about food production and explained that every ingredient on a pizza comes from the farm, a fact that some of the students were surprised to learn. The forestry, water quality, livestock production and farm safety stations were equally as fascinating for the fifth-graders.

Troyer says he appreciates the help of all the sponsors, instructors and volunteers for the day and thanked the teachers, assistants and students for attending. “I’m looking forward to next year,” he said enthusiastically. “Each year we learn something new to help make the next event even better.”