Tim Reinbott’s love of pumpkins started back in kindergarten during a class field trip.
Now as superintendent of the Bradford Research Center in Columbia, he is sharing his affection for the autumnal adornments with students around central Missouri.
“Since 2005 we have been growing pumpkins to share with kids,” Reinbott said. “They are your traditional jack-o-lantern varieties but we do also plant some odd balls to make things even more fun.”
This year out of a 5-acre field, more than 3,000 pumpkins made their way to the homes of families thanks to the efforts of the research center owned by the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
“Almost every day of the month in October we had some school out here with kids picking out pumpkins,” added Reinbott. “We had at least two dozen schools come out and we didn’t charge them anything. It’s a great field trip for the kids.”
Besides providing an experience of going out to a pumpkin patch the staff at the research center also take the time to talk
about agriculture to the kids.
“Today most kids can be at least two to three generations removed from the farm and might not know where their food comes from,” Reinbott said. “For many, this could be their first time on a farm so I enjoy sharing with them these experiences because who knows, it might help spark them to get into food production.”
The students learn about how corn, soybeans, tomatoes and rice are grown and where the cotton in their jeans comes from. They also learn about the importance of agriculture and how farmers not only feed people but grow feed for animals.
“It’s so important for our students to learn about where the items in their grocery store come from,” said Bridget Overton, kindergarten teacher at Mill Creek Elementary School. “Tim and his staff do such a great job of conveying an important message.”
A week before Halloween, Overton helped lead a visit to the research center for more than 100 kindergarteners from the elementary school in southwest Columbia.
“We were learning about plants in class so to be able to show the kids what the plants actually look like was great,” she added. “I would recommend any teacher to talk to Tim about a field trip visit next year.”
During many of the school visits, several parents tagged along not only as chaperones but as a chance to learn more about agriculture as well.
“It was even interesting for me to learn about the cotton and the many different varieties of corn that are out there,” Steve Issacs said of his visit with his son Vincent. “It’s always great to get the kids outside and experience how life on a farm is.”
Reinbott admits one of the main reasons he plants the pumpkins each year is the smiles and laughter that come from each school visit.
“I tell everyone that you can pick out whatever pumpkin you want as long as you can carry it,” Reinbott said, smiling. “But you always see the smallest kid trying to pick up and carry back to the wagon the biggest pumpkin out there. You can’t help but smile when you see something like that. Stuff like that makes giving back to the community so much worth while.”
For more information about events going on at Bradford Research Center, visit http://aes.missouri.edu/bradford/.