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Ag teacher Kally Koch honored for school ag program
At Riverdale School District
Kally Koch honored
RIVERDALE AG Education teacher Kelly Koch has been honored for the agricultural education program she leads in the Riverdale Middle and High Schools.

MUSCODA - Mrs. Kally Koch and the Riverdale Agricultural Department were selected as the Section 4 winner of the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators’ Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education Program Award.

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

Mrs. Koch provides an innovative curriculum that remains relevant in the constantly changing world of agriculture. Riverdale offers an array of course pathways, each having multiple semester-long classes including: animal science, food science, plant science, agriculture business, conservation & natural resources, exploring agriculture, agriculture mechanics, and forestry. Each class offers either an industry recognized certification, high school science credit or transcripted credit via SWTC. Our school farm and forest are utilized in conjunction with our classes as often as possible. Our forest is great for the forestry classes, exploring agriculture class, horticulture, and also cross curricular collaboration with our science department. Activities include managing the forest through harvest and planting via partial cruising, forester visits and, most recently, the work of a harvesting crew and equipment. This harvest gave students several opportunities to grade and measure standing trees and lumber. They talked with equipment operators and DNR forest management individuals. After the harvest we worked in conjunction with the science department to plant 1,000 trees on our site. The tillable acres are used by students in the agriculture business class, and crop and soil science, to plan, purchase, and market our farm crops. This past year, ag students and FFA members secured 39 varieties of corn for our school test plot. After planting our test plot, we had enough seed left over to plant our entire tillable land, resulting in our whole crop being donated. After planting, students observe and test the fields for things like percent emerged seeds, lodging, weed identification, yield checks, disease, pests, and total crop management. Students also work closely with local Ag applicators to determine herbicide and pesticide usage. In the fall students harvest the crop and haul it to the local elevator. Our agriculture business class then manages our corn sale. In 2021 students pre contracted 1,000 bushels and made decisions on storing or selling. This gave students hands-on experience selling commodities. In 2021 students’ marketing strategies lead to a sizable profit.

Other local business partnerships have greatly increased the real world learning opportunities Riverdale students receive. These companies and individuals are great friends to the Riverdale FFA and Agriculture Department. First, we recently reestablished our FFA Alumni after 10 years. We partnered with a local implement dealer, Ritchie Implement, to provide a brand new Farmall 110A tractor for school and FFA use on a revolving lease. In our first lease year, we have used the tractor to haul corn, mow trails, shuttle 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 getting our school farm trails and test plot back up to an accessible level. Additionally, we are  beginning to build our School Farm Learning Center with funds donated in memory of Jack Meister. This building will include the implementation of water, electricity and plumbing at the school farm which will help us to better utilize the farm resource. Additionally, we work with Riverdale Ag throughout the year spraying, storing and marketing our crop. We partnered with Wanless Excavating and Hackl Construction as we leveled the school farm parking lot site, dug soils pits and delivered top ,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 spots to plant new trees. With the help of Community First Bank we purchased a new magnetic sign to display our test plot donors in color. Last, our largest group of partners include numerous farms, seed dealers and agronomists in the area who donate equipment, time, knowledge, and seed. We are very fortunate to have several community members, parents, students and businesses that help make our agriculture department, FFA and students a success.