LEEDS — Almost 50 third- and fourth-graders from Leeds Central School boarded the bus for an all-day field trip around town as part of their curriculum unit “Our Community.”

The field trip was organized with help of the Leeds Historical Society and students went first to the Leeds Fire Department where parent and Leeds Volunteer Fireman Nat Bell described the work done and gave a tour of the fire house.

From the fire house, the group walked up the Ridge Road, where Leeds resident Jim Miller spoke about the esker, how it was formed by the glaciers and how it has, in turn, had an impact on travel and industry in the town of Leeds.

Leaving the Ridge Road, the bus paused at the former McKinley School in Leeds Center where historical society president Laura Juraska spoke briefly about the history of one-room schools in Leeds and described the society’s project of interviewing Leeds residents to learn about their one-room school experiences.

Continuing through town, the students’ next stop was the Leeds Desert. Many were surprised to learn that there was a desert in Leeds. Miller explained that it is not a true desert as it receives an abundance of precipitation. Once again, the glaciers were responsible for depositing this feature on the Leeds landscape.

When the early settlers started farming in the late 1700s, they were pleased to find this almost rock-free land, but over the years the clearing of the land, failure to rotate crops and overgrazing caused soil erosion, the sandy glacial silt was exposed and the “desert” was formed.

The bus then traveled to the Bell farm where the students had a picnic lunch before heading to the barn to see the family Jersey cow being milked. After the milking, the group walked up the road to see the draft horse and the herd of Scottish Highland beef cows and their calves.

Bell explained that he grows sunflowers and presses the seeds for oil, and after the oil is extracted, the seeds are used as feed for the cattle.

The last stop of the day was the Leeds Town Office where Administrative Assistant Joyce Pratt explained what business is done at the office and the selectmen’s role in the town.

The students were told about the voting process, and each one was given a ballot and asked to vote for favorite stop on the field trip. They went into the voting booth to mark the ballot, and when they were done, placed it in the ballot box. The town clerk then counted the ballots and announced the winner, the Bell Farm.

The students returned to school with tales to tell and a new found knowledge of their town.

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