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Sandy Journal

Silver Mesa kindergartners recall virtual field trip, visit with Gov. Herbert in everyday lessons

Mar 10, 2021 12:08PM ● By Julie Slama

Silver Mesa kindergarten students learned about farm-to-school and eating healthy last fall from then Gov. Gary Herbert, a lesson that has stuck with them through the year. (Julie Whipple/Silver Mesa Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Silver Mesa kindergarten teacher Lynette Keller said she couldn’t imagine anything like a day back in November, but she is reminded of it periodically from her students.

“We talk about listening when our friends are speaking or about the cafeteria staff wearing gloves or about us washing hands; and they say, ‘it’s just like the governor and the farm event,’” Keller said. “It’s a lifestyle lesson that has made an impact. I mean, who would have thought that virtual field trips would become the norm, then they would mean so much to our students or that the governor would come on and answer kindergartners’ questions—just at our school.”

She recalls the virtual field trip back in November when 35 Silver Mesa kindergartners got to meet the state’s governor virtually.

“We usually go down to the capitol on a field trip to understand where produce comes from as part of the farm-to-school learning,” she said. “Instead, they came to us and asked if we’d like to do a virtual field trip learning from farmers and that Gov. Herbert would be there. I thought it would be like 15 schools and instead, it was just us. We had the full attention from the governor. That is something still unbelievable that he would find that time during this year to devote to kindergartners’ learning.”

Keller said it surprised her so much, she almost forgot what she was doing to record the virtual meeting, which was replayed later that day for the afternoon kindergartners. Even more surprising was that Herbert took the time to answer the students’ questions.

Remi Taedara was one of those who asked the governor a question: “I was happy I got to ask a question to the governor, and it was really fun!” 

The virtual field trip was to replace the “Apple Crunch” visit to the capitol and was coordinated by Kate Wheeler, the farm-to-school/procurement specialist at the Utah State Board of Education.

“Typically, students across the state come eat an apple and do apple-related activities and learn about healthy eating during that field trip,” Keller’s colleague, Victoria Crabtree said. “It’s really fun to hear the crunch of apples when all the students eat them at once in the rotunda.”

Keller said that on the virtual Harvest Gratitude Day, students not only learned about getting apples from the orchard to the store or through machinery to make juice, but also the basics about cows and cattle—those they milk versus those who provide them protein.

“A student asked the rancher, ‘How do you milk the cattle?’ It was answered simply: ‘We don’t milk them here,’” she said. “There really were some good questions and then, that’s when the governor got on and introduced himself. It was really nice, so kind that he took the time to be there for the students.”

Crabtree said that the governor then answered questions like Remi’s.

“He answered questions from what it means to be and eat healthy to what was his job and where does he work to what it means to be the leader of the state,” she said. “I think he made an impact on the students now and when they reflect back, it will bring even more importance.”

Herbert also thanked teachers for facing the challenges during this COVID-19 year.

The day also tied into the kindergartens’ annual Friendship Feast. Although this year, it looked different with sack lunches and students sitting apart from each other. 

Still, Remi liked to celebrate with his friends.

“Friends make me feel happy,” he said. “It was fun to sit across from Ryker!”