CANYON CITY - Humbolt Elementary School first-graders started their day off with a cup of edible "dirt" when the Grant Union Ag teacher Shanna Northway and student Sam Rawlins visited their class on May 3.

Northway also visited the other grades with some of her other students throughout the day.

Rawlins, a junior and a member of Future Farmers of America, served all three first-grade classes the dirt cups, and helped teach the students about how things grow. Northway explained that the milk represented water and the pudding mix was dirt, they later added Oreos as "rocks," and colored marshmallows as "fertilizer" (don't eat real fertilizer, they warned).

Each student "planted" a candy corn in a pudding cup, and licked the chocolatey goo from their finger.

"I learned that plants need sun and water to grow," said Ali Chobo, whose teacher is Peggy Murphy.

The visit was part of a math unit on Farms. The first-graders have been busy building model farms and using math skills, "buying" farm equipment, seeds, animals, feed and fencing supplies.

A visit from Linda Brown, a 4-H volunteer leader, and some of her farm animals was another tie-in to the project.

They petted a rabbit, a horse named Spud, a chicken, a goat, a sheep and a lamb named Cocoa Puff, and asked plenty of questions.

A few things they learned: horses have only one stomach and their manure isn't a good fertilizer for gardens because they don't digest the seeds they eat; you can tell what color of egg a chicken will lay by the color of their ear lobes, and their manure is good for gardening; because rabbit's teeth grow throughout their life, they need a piece of wood to chew on in their pen.

As first-graders continue their farm studies throughout the month, they will raise money to donate to Heifer International, a non-profit organization that helps needy families in areas throughout the world raise animals to improve their economic conditions.

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