BEAVER DAM — “…and it was in a garden that Jesus rose from the dead, the Gardener of the New Creation … Praise the Lord! May we always beat our swords into plows and our spears into pruning hooks. May our tools serve the common good (and), help us to be better stewards of the earth.”

Alice in Dairyland, Teyanna Loether, poses with students from St. Katharine Drexel School, Beaver Dam, Feb. 1, during a Catholic Schools Week visit to the school. Pictured are Clayton Kroschel, left to right back row, and Olivia Lafler, and Collin Jorata, front left, and Maddie Steele.“God is important to the growing of crops. He is in some way the Master Gardener,” said Katie Tyransai, 13, who joined fellow students in reciting a prayer to God, the Divine Gardener, during a Catholic Schools Week program at St. Katharine Drexel School, Beaver Dam.

“Fun on the Farm” kicked off a weeklong schedule of events at the K-8 school recognizing the Beaver Dam area’s tradition of strong Catholic education and the community’s dependence on agriculture. Most students came to school dressed as farmers.

The theme of National Catholic Schools Week was “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

Schools typically hold a series of events focusing on the value Catholic education provides for young people and its contributions to churches, communities and the nation, according to the National Catholic Education Association.

Eighth grade teacher Peggy Scott, recited the prayer during a student assembly, telling students about God’s part in creation. She used the prayer as an inspiration “to give us appreciation of the world God blesses us with, allowing us to share with others and the rest of the world.”

“We pray for farmers, their safety, good weather and for their business in keeping farms operating,” Scott said.

The week was highlighted by a visit from Alice in Dairyland, Teyanna Loether, the state’s agricultural ambassador. Tristan Tiffany addresses his fellow St. Katherine Drexel students during a Catholic Schools Week assembly, Feb. 1, that discussed the importance of agriculture in Dodge County. (Submitted photos courtesy St. Katharine Drexel School)

“Alice in Dairyland showed us new ways to learn about agriculture and taught us a lot about the work that goes into farming. The farmer works very hard every day to give us food,” said Katie Tyransai.

Tyransai’s fellow students, many whom do not live on farms, also learned about the state’s agricultural economy and recognizing agriculture’s link with God.

“God teaches us to respect others and appreciate all that we have,” said Brion Screlow, 14, who doesn’t live on a farm but has worked on one feeding calves, baling hay and enjoying time with his friends. “Alice in Dairyland told us Wisconsin is number two in crops and milk production. We are number one in cheese production.”

Emily Schliesman, 13, said her Catholic education has taught her to respect life, including all animals.

According to the 2014 Dodge County Agriculture Value and Economic Impact report, agriculture provides 20 percent of Dodge County jobs and contributes more than $760 million to the county’s income. Farmers are stewards of 72 percent of Dodge County’s land, owning and managing 402,000 acres, including cropland, rangeland, pasture, tree farms and farm forests.

“We are a rural community and during Catholic Schools Week we explored our roots as far as our agrarian background,” said school librarian and information specialist Ruth Kaiser. “God is the creator of the land and we are entrusted to be stewards and care for it. As a Catholic school, we’re not only able to educate students about farming and the farm industry, but also educate them that through God’s grace we can farm and produce products for everyone. Everything we have is from God.”

Principal Barbara Haase said when people first settled in Beaver Dam they sacrificed everything to educate their children and give them to the religious life.

“They made sure, and continue to make sure, their children have the best in Catholic education,” she said.