Wanda Patsche brings extensive ag experience to Farm Camp director role
Wanda Patsche, new Farm Camp director, has farmed with her husband near I-90 in southern Minnesota since the 1970s and shares her passion for farming on her blog.
Wanda Patsche, the new program director of Farm Camp, is looking to open the eyes of the next generation of agriculture enthusiasts.
Farm Camp is a program under the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation (MAITC), that supplies educators with materials to prepare students for an on-site experience. Through the use of MAITC lessons, students gain an understanding of a specific ag product to support learning prior to their farm visit.
Patsche previously worked on the staff of Minnesota Ag in the Classroom as a regional curriculum specialist from 2017 to 2021.
“My role there was to work really closely with educators, helping them bring in ag-based lessons that also met their educational standards,” said Patsche. “As a curriculum specialist, we would come up with the lesson plans, and provide the supplies – or what we call kits, and drop them off at the school, and then allow the teachers to teach those lessons.”
Patsche credited previous Farm Camp director, Ann Vote — who also worked as a regional curriculum specialist — for creating and building up the Farm Camp program, which has only existed for a couple of years.
“I have big shoes to fill,” said Patsche of filling Vote’s place. “But I'm coming from an ag background.”
Patsche and her husband, Chuck, own and operate a farm where they raise crops and hogs near Welcome, in southern Minnesota. She didn’t grow up on a farm, but said she developed a passion for agriculture and ag education after she met her husband.
Along with volunteering, Patsche shares her passion for agriculture through social media and via her blog, Minnesota Farm Living .
She said her previous experience and network will allow her to grow the program to new heights.
“I'm a past member of the Minnesota Pork Board , I'm on the FarmAmerica board right now, and I'm also a member of our county Farm Bureau,” said Patsche. “Just oodles of different experiences — that's one advantage of being on this earth for as long as I have, is that I know a lot of people, especially in agriculture.”
As the new Farm Camp Program Director, Patsche said she is looking forward to connecting educators, farmers and students to provide an immersive hands-on Farm Camp experience.
“I'm just very passionate about agriculture and ag education, and hopefully can bring some new ideas,” she said.
Patsche said that Farm Camp is one way that MAITC is able to “bridge the classroom into the farm.”
“It’s a three-day experience, where you can actually go a little bit deeper into a specific topic, or a specific industry,” she said. “And we try to make it fun, interactive, and it’s completely customizable so they don't look the same.”
How the process works is that educators reach out to MAITC, and do some brainstorming with Patsche on what would work best and meet their curriculum standards. The next step is finding a farm fairly close to the school, and picking a day and time that works best.
Day one of the camp then consists of preparing students for a farm tour, while day two is the tour, and the final day has students in the classroom again, following up on possible careers.
Patsche said that careers explored will not only entail on-farm jobs.
“Unfortunately, when people are thinking ag careers, they're thinking just jobs on the farm, but there's so much more to just working on the farm,” she said. “Do you like to draw, or want to go into graphic arts? Guess what, there's a spot for you in agriculture, because we have to have people who can design food packages — so it's just really opening up their eyes to different options.”