Pirate News: Traveling FARM Science Lab visits Spitler Elementary School.

March 7, 2020

Pirate News: Traveling FARM Science Lab visits Spitler Elementary School.

Fifth-wheel trailer travels from school to school throughout Michigan educating young minds about the importance of “Food, Agriculture and Resources in Motion.”

Pirate News is a service of Hart Public Schools in cooperation with Oceana County Press.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — Second graders at Spitler Elementary School learned about the parts of a plant, the life cycle of a plant and how to care for plants during a lesson inside the FARM Science Lab with Regional Educator Julie Ruggles. Each student got to bring home a green bean plant.


The students from all elementary grades received engaging lessons about how their food is raised during the mobile lab’s four-day stay.

The FARM Science Lab is operated through the Michigan Farm Bureau.

Ruggles, a retired schoolteacher, said she “fell into this,” because she loves farming and she loves children.

The lab has 10 stations, each equipped with an iPad, to accommodate up to three students each.

Ruggles said there are two trailers circulating through the state, sharing lessons about agriculture and its importance to our communities. K-2 classes receive a half hour lesson, and grades 3-5 have 50-minute lessons.

“I like how it’s hands-on for the kids,” said Spitler Elementary School Principal Andrea Degen. “It teaches real-life experiences, and they can take something with them.”

Lynda Herremans and Mary Sheppard with the Oceana County Farm Bureau worked with Hart school leaders to bring the lab to Hart.

Oceana County 4-H Program Coordinator Sarah Schaner and MSU Extension Office Manager Kathy Walicki, who are also involved with the local Farm Bureau, volunteered their time to help out with the lab.

Herremans is working with Shelby Public Schools to have the lab make a return visit next school year at Shelby’s Thomas Read Elementary School and possibly New Era Elementary School, Walicki said. The lab is also expected to visit Mason County Central and Mason County Eastern schools in the fall.

“There are so many careers in ag that can’t be filled,” Schaner said, one of which is plant research science. Part of the FARM science lab’s mission is sparking students’ interest in the different jobs available in the agriculture field.


“Agriculture affects all our lives every day, but many students don’t understand these connections: how healthy, nutritious food arrives on their tables; how fiber is produced to clothe them; or how agriculture products provide shelter,” states a Michigan Farm Bureau press release. “Michigan’s food and farm sector produces more than 300 commodities and generates more than $100 billion in economic activity annually. Not only is agriculture important to students personally, it is vital to our state’s and nation’s economy.”

This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.