Last Friday my daughter Beth and I visited the Worthington Middle School and shared our experiences as pig farmers with the 5th graders. The opportunity was made possible by the MN Pork Board through their sponsorship with Provider Pals.

Very few of the culturally diverse kids were familiar with pigs and the basic facts of how much they weigh when they are born (3.3 lbs), how big they are at market (280 lbs) and how many pigs a sow can have in a year (30). By the way, that last fact drew a big “wow” from the kids. They asked lots of questions and had a great time trying on the Tyvek coveralls and plastic boots.

They took turns coming to the smart board and circling on a picture of a pig where their favorite cuts of pork came from. You could see them start to make the connection – bacon, everyone’s favorite, comes from pigs and these people raise those pigs. They wanted to know how much pigs ate and how did we decide how much to feed the sows and oh by the way, why do you call them sows? Yes, we even go the delicate question of how can you eat the pigs you raise. As I explain to them how lucky I am because I have the opportunity to grow my own food, I also wanted them to understand that I know I raise pork for people like them and I want them to have safe and healthy pork too.

During one of our breaks a little boy who hasn’t been in the U.S. very long, politely came up and asked Beth if she wanted to play checkers. What a fitting summary to our day. We may live in different areas and look and speak differently, but in the end, we all have something in common.

Our goal was to leave a little nugget of information for those kids so that the next time someone talks about pigs and farming they remember what we said and make a positive connection. Yes, pig farmers are real people. They have kids and those kids like to play checkers, just like you.

Playing Chess at Provider Pals Day