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One Prairie Elementary student raises a pumpkin over his head in triumph Thursday afternoon. His class was one of three that had the opportunity to attend a field trip to Nisqually Springs Farms.

“One by one, two by two, and three by three. That’s the way we sing it, yessiree,” sang a chorus of Prairie Elementary second-graders as they sat shoulder-to-shoulder during a hayride. 

“To Nisqually Farms we’ll go. There we’ll have fun, we know. Singing one by one, two by two, three by three.” 

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Students gather around to learn about pumpkins, gords and corn.

A glistening Mount Rainier, clear skies, and fall foliage were the backdrop Thursday morning as about 80 second-graders from Prairie Elementary took to Nisqually Springs Farm for fun-filled farm activities. 

The field trip was funded in collaboration with Crossroads Community Covenant Church. 

Deborah Baker, outreach facilitator for Crossroads, said funds the school district pay for kids to attend the field trip will go back into the district’s Dollars for Scholars fund. 

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Floyd “Farmer Floyd” Dugger cheers Thursday afternoon as students answer questions about geography in the Nisqually Watershed. Matt DeHan, farm manager at Nisqually Springs Farm, right, chuckles.

“You can’t get better than this,” Baker said. “It’s all local and stays right here.” 

Students got the opportunity to pick pumpkins, learn about gourds and horses, run through hay mazes, cruise through the farm on a hayride, and learn about falcons from regionally-renowned falconer Brad Wood. 

“It’s one of the largest open pieces of land in the county,” said Wood, who occasionally releases his falcons to hunt on the farm. 

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Prairie Elementary students get picky with their pumpkin choice Thursday afternoon at Nisqually Springs Farm.

During Wood’s lunchtime presentation, the falconer of more than 50 years taught students from Mrs. McLaughlin, Mrs. Kay and Mrs. Duncan’s classes about elk, owls, pheasants and, of course, falcons, with plenty of visual aids. 

After lunch, it was time for farm-fun activities. One class began their rotation with a hayride along the muddy roads that line patches of lettuce, yellow corn and Indian corn.  

Floyd “Farmer Floyd” Dugger, men’s ministry leader at Crossroads Church, quizzed the group on Nisqually Watershed geography as they passed by patches of produce and the Nisqually River. They also learned a Nisqually Springs Farm anthem, which they rehearsed thoroughly until every student knew the song. 

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Is that an orange? A baseball? Nope. Pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes at the Nisqually Springs Farm. On Thursday, about 80 2nd graders from Prairie Elementary got the opportunity to visit and participate in activities at the farm.

“It’s all about having fun,” Dugger proclaimed as students stepped off the trailer. “Smiles are free the rest of the day.” 

Matt DeHan, farm manager of Nisqually Springs Farm, helped kids into and out of the trailer. DeHan was a student in Mrs. McLaughlin’s kindergarten class a number of years ago, he said, so it was nice when he was able to see a few familiar faces from the school district as kids rushed off the school bus. 

“It’s been really fun seeing all the little kids,” he said. 

DeHan said this was his first year taking over the organization of these field trips in collaboration with Yelm Community Schools and the church. While working as the farm’s manager isn’t all fun, all the time, he said today was a special exception. 

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Students rush back to the bus with pumpkins Thursday afternoon at Nisqually Springs Farm.

“It’s kind of weird. It’s not too much work, but it’s great for them to come down,” he said. 

Inside a small hangar, kids ran about inside a small maze made from bales of hay. Inside the center of the maze, students gathered around and learned about the different shapes and sizes of gourds. 

Outside near the horse stables, another class learned about horseshoes, equestrian diet and horse hygiene and were introduced to Bill and Bob, two retired horses on the farm that were sent to Washington after many years of working on Amish farms in rural Indiana. 

After about an hour, the three classrooms came back together and lined up in front of a small patch of brush. Hidden among the thickets of grass were hundreds of small pumpkins just waiting to be claimed. 

Kids rushed into the grass looking for a suitable pumpkin with only minutes to spare before the buses took off for Yelm. 

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