Its That Time, Senior Field Studies is Approaching Fast


Its that time of year! Bear Creek High School seniors will soon be descending upon Colorado farms and ranches for their yearly visit. The Senior Field Studies program still needs 10 members to host a student for this year’s trip.

Please contact Patty Kenny (303) 749-7506 pkenny@colofb.com if you are interested in hosting a student(s). The deadline to finalize host families and ensure that every student has a place to stay is March 23rd.

Students travel dates are April 8th through the 15th.

Please consider hosting a student yourself, and promoting the program with others in your county.

Senior Field Studies is a program involving thirty high school seniors from Bear Creek High School in Jefferson County. It is a “learning by doing” educational course that covers one semester. The students explore the communities that surround them: urban, suburban, rural and wilderness.

Colorado Farm Bureau Women sponsor the rural segment of Senior Field Studies. The rural portion consists of a student living with a Farm Bureau host family for one week. In 2010, students will be visiting the country from April 8-15 (seven nights) to experience farm and ranch life first hand.

These students are from a wide variety of backgrounds and are of different races and nationalities. They are not interested in an agricultural career but are simply studying farming, ranching and rural living along with other communities, through personal experience. They will have been briefed on agriculture in their classroom by Farm Bureau staff before traveling to the country. Some of the objectives of the rural live-in experience are to experience rural life first hand, gain knowledge of the problems farmers and ranchers must deal with on a day-to-day basis, participate in the daily chores, understand how politics affect the agricultural industry and to compare and contrast rural lifestyles with urban/suburban lifestyles.

Host families are encouraged to treat their student as “one of the family.” You should try to keep your student busy through work activities that are directly related to the operation. This may include tractor driving, truck driving, calving, fertilizing, fence fixing, budget awareness, etc. basically having the student do the same work the farmer or hired hand would do, without “overworking” them. If you host a female student, be sure to let her participate in the majority of the farm chores just as you would a male student. You might want to allow your student some choice in work activities that might fit their interest or talents. Try to strike a balance so the student is involved and busy with all family activities and doesn’t feel like just a laborer.

Allow time for interaction and discussion between the student and your family. The experience will be much more meaningful to the student if you explain not just how to do things, but why you’re doing them. Students will also need appropriate time to themselves and for homework due after the experience such as essays, notebook and a field journal.

If there is time, host families may want to let the student experience some meaningful activities in the community such as schools, water meetings, meetings of various organizations related to processing, sales, visits to other farms, etc. The students will expect to attend church, if the family attends. Many counties also sponsor a potluck dinner for the students and host families so the students can share their experiences with everyone. However, do not feel that you need to “entertain” your student. They expect to work, keep busy and experience your way of living.

The students are told that you, as their host family, are in charge. Most of them have not spent time on a farm or ranch before. Most of them will not have the same work ethic as you do. Some will jump right in and help and others may need some prompting, so do not feel uncomfortable giving them direction. It is a new environment for them and they will be away from their peers, so hopefully, you will become their friend as well.

Senior Field Studies is for both college bound and non-college bound students and is designed for seniors who have satisfied all other curriculum requirements for graduation. Each student must contribute more than $1000 to participate.

All of the students are required to obtain a medical examination prior to the course. They are covered by their school, just as they would be for any sports activity, and you are not liable for accidents that might occur while they are at your home.

The schools will assign each student to a family at the end of March, based upon the information Farm Bureau provides them from the host family applications. Please be specific when filling out your application. Describe your operation in detail and try to describe what an average day on your farm or ranch might be like.

After the students are assigned to a family, they will write their host family a letter or e-mail to tell them a little about themselves prior to their visit. Host families should write a return letter to tell their student about the family, more about the farm or ranch operation, specific items to bring, etc. Send a picture of your family and your farm or ranch, if possible. It is also a good idea to talk to your student on the phone before the visit -to establish further contact and help the student and your family feel more comfortable when they arrive.

Each area of the state that is hosting students has a Farm Bureau coordinator. The teacher will arrange the date, time and place the students will arrive and depart with the coordinator and he or she will notify you. You can always contact your coordinator if you have any questions. If you should have any problems while the student is in your home, you can phone their teacher or the Farm Bureau state office.

The rural portion of Senior Field Studies has been a huge success in past years with many students considering it the highlight of their semester. It has proven to be a great way to improve communications and build understanding between rural and urban communities. Thank you for your consideration on being a host family.

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