Some farmers are still racing to get the last of their crops out of the fields, but the agricultural students in Dell Rapids, S.D., wrapped up their harvest last month with some help from an area equipment company.

Folks from Schuneman Equipment in Garretson brought a John Deere combine with a 30-foot flex draper head to the Dell Rapids School District’s 16-acre soy bean field east of the football facilities last month where they helped the local FFA Chapter and Tom Wolff’s fundamental plant science class cultivate this year’s crop.

“Usually it’s something that occurs after school,” Wolff said. “For it to be more of a learning experience I contacted Schuneman over in Garretson and asked if they would come over during the school day.”

Wolff, in his 14th year as FFA advisor and ag department director at Dell Rapids High School, said there wasn’t a need to use classroom time for field work 10 years ago because most students interested in agricultural classes and FFA were already “farm kids.” Today, Wolff said the majority of his students live in the city so it’s becoming more important to make hands-on lessons a bigger part of the curriculum.

The afternoon that the crop was harvested — Thursday, October 16 — each of the 22 students in Wolff’s fundamental plant science class were able to ride along for a couple rounds in the field, all the while getting an up-close look at the mechanics and technology at a farmer’s fingertips.

For Schuneman sales manager Brett Steinocker, the trip to Dell Rapids was mutually beneficial.

“It gave us an opportunity to showcase the equipment industry and the agricultural industry and to help the students understand how some of the mechanics work for harvesting,” Steinocker said.

The FFA chapter relies on seed donations from local companies like Ed’s Produce and the Dell Rapids Coop before planting in the spring, and area farmers traditional volunteer their time and equipment to ensure the school district is getting the most out of its land lab.

The harvest is sold in the cash market with proceeds helping the FFA fund activities throughout the year like conventions and leadership events.