Great Falls High Freshman learn about Farm and Ranch Conservation.

Twenty-nine Great Falls High School Freshman accompanied by teachers, administrators, school board members and Foundation Board members recently toured South Phillips County.

Last year the teachers had received a dream big $100,000 grant, by thinking “what if.”  What if there was a subject that could be taught across all curriculum areas to their freshmen students? What if they could get their students out of the classroom to study the material and could teach them a little bit about conservation and Montana history in the process?  The teachers’ “Prairie Expedition” grant application won.

There were several of components to the grant, but one big feature was to take the students to the American Prairie Reserve outside of Malta to encourage them to be conservation-minded.  The teachers were contacted by Tom Depuydt, Phillips County Farm Bureau President, to encourage them to consider including a ranch tour while they were in the area.

Members of the Phillips County Cattlewomen, Phillips County Farm Bureau, Phillips County Livestock Association, and Ranchers Stewardship Alliance teamed up to host a ranch tour in South Phillips County followed by a farm tour near Malta.  The students first toured the Tallow Creek School, for a glimpse of the history of our area.  Kelli French and Leo Barthelmess, former school students, shared their experiences of a one-room school house.  Leo and Sierra Stoneberg-Holt discussed the history of the school.

Hayride at the Double o Ranch.

At the Double O Ranch, everyone was treated to a meal of barbecued hamburgers or lamb burgers, fruit salad, macaroni salad, and homemade cookies.  There was also a contest encouraging students to identify where their food was derived.

Following the meal, the group took a short hay ride to a field location where they rotated between 2 stations.  At one Sierra Stoneberg-Holt continued her range discussion from her school visit and Leo Barthelmess discussed the value of managed livestock grazing and the positive influence on wildlife habitat, clean water, and conservation /landscape sustainability.

The final station consisted of an opportunity for the group to milk a cow, make butter, and make ice cream.  There was the option to eat the ice cream.  Also part of the tour were calves, lambs, and kittens.

Tour at Brian & Vicki Eggebrecht farm.

The group returned to Malta where they visited the Brian and Vicki Eggebrecht farm.  They shared information about the Farm Bill, soil health, and crop roduction.

The tour hosts and planners included Darla and Leo Barthelmess, Tom Depuydt, Brian and Vicki Eggebrecht, Nancy and Mike Ereaux, Connie French, Kelli French, Perri Jacobs, Vicki and Darrell Olson, Linda Poole, Lesley Robinson, and Sierra Stoneberg-Holt.



Anne Johnson, DVM