Agriculture teacher Kally Koch honored for school’s agriculture program

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MUSCODA – Mrs. Kally Koch and the Riverdale Department of Agriculture have been selected as the Section 4 recipients of the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators’ Outstanding Junior/High School Agricultural Education Program Award.

“I inspire a passion and love for agriculture by engaging students in hands-on experiences, innovative curriculum, and career exploration,” says Ms. Kally Koch, Riverdale Agricultural Instructor and FFA Advisor. Recently, Ms. Koch and the Riverdale Department of Agriculture were selected as Section 4 recipients of the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators’ Outstanding Junior/High School Agricultural Education Program Award.

Ms. Koch offers an innovative program that remains relevant in the ever-changing world of agriculture. Riverdale offers a range of course paths, each having multiple semester-long courses, including: Animal Science, Food Science, Plant Science, Agricultural Enterprise, Conservation and Natural Resources, Agriculture Exploration, Agricultural Mechanics, and Forestry. Each class offers either industry-recognized certification, high school science credit, or transcribed credit through SWTC. Our school farm and forest are used in conjunction with our classes as often as possible. Our forest is ideal for forestry courses, exploration of agriculture courses, horticulture and also interdisciplinary collaboration with our science department. Activities include managing the forest through harvesting and planting via partial cruises, visiting foresters and, more recently, working a harvesting crew and equipment. This harvest gave students several opportunities to classify and measure trees and standing timber. They spoke with equipment operators and MNR forest management officials. After harvest, we worked with the science department to plant 1,000 trees on our site. Cultivable Acres are used by students in the Agricultural Business Class and Crop and Soil Sciences to plan, purchase and market our agricultural crops. Last year, agricultural students and FFA members obtained 39 maize varieties for our school trial plot. After planting our trial plot, we had enough seed left over to plant all of our cropland, resulting in our entire crop being donated. After planting, students observe and test the fields for things like percent seed emergence, lodging, weed identification, yield checks, disease, pests, and total crop management. Students also work closely with local agricultural applicators to determine the use of herbicides and pesticides. In the fall, students harvest the crop and transport it to the local silo. Our agricultural business class then manages our sale of corn. In 2021, the students pre-contracted 1,000 bushels and made decisions on whether to store or sell. This gave the students hands-on experience in selling commodities. In 2021, student marketing strategies generate considerable profit.

Other local business partnerships have greatly increased the real-world learning opportunities Riverdale students receive. These companies and individuals are great friends of the FFA and the Riverdale Department of Agriculture. First, we recently re-established our FFA Alumni after 10 years. We have partnered with a local implement dealer, Ritchie Implement, to provide a brand new Farmall 110A tractor for use at the school and FFA on a renewable lease. In our first year of lease, we used the tractor to haul corn, mow trails, haul people, and provide tractor safety certification. We also partnered with another implement dealer, Hennessey Implement, to purchase a 6′ 3 point mower. These two partnerships have been instrumental in the accessible upgrading of the trails at our school farm and test plot. Additionally, we are beginning to build our School Farm Learning Center with funds donated in memory of Jack Meister. This building will include the installation of water, electricity and plumbing to the school farm, which will help us to better use the resources of the farm. Additionally, we work with Riverdale Ag throughout the year to spray, store and market our crop. We partnered with Wanless Excavating and Hackl Construction to level the school farm parking lot, dig pits and deliver soil for our raised garden bed. The Richland County DNR Forester works with us to improve our school forest, helping us decide where to place new facilities. They are also a great resource for evaluating timber and determining where to plant new trees. With the help of Community First Bank, we purchased a new magnetic sign to display our color test plot donors. Finally, our largest group of partners includes many farms, seed dealers and agronomists in the region who donate equipment, time, knowledge and seeds. We are very fortunate to have several community members, parents, students, and businesses contributing to the success of our agriculture department, FFA, and students.

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