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Hands-on learning

Kids get to see how things work

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Cali Ascherl, 3, of Fort Dodge, listens to instructions from Mid Country Machinery’s Brandon Kinseth, right, as she gets to try out a small excavator Thursday afternoon during Touch A Truck held at Citizens Central. The ongoing city of Fort Dodge Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department program gives children a chance to learn about various trucks and machinery — hands on.

While it might not cut it on a construction site, a Minnie Mouse shirt and skirt worked just fine for Cali Ascherl, 3, of Fort Dodge, as she got to try operating a small excavator Thursday.

Asherl began her new career during a Fort Dodge Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department learning session called Touch A Truck held weekly at Citizens Central.

When she got done, she was all smiles.

“Did you like it?” her mom, Sarah Ascherl, asked her.

“Yes,” her daughter replied.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Participants in the weekly Fort Dodge Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department Touch A Truck program line up for a chance to try out a small excavator Thursday at Citizens Central in downtown Fort Dodge.

“Was it fun?” was the next question and again, the answer was a resounding “Yes.”

“Would you like to go again?” was the next one her mom asked.

“Yep,” was Cali’s answer.

She’s no stranger to being around equipment, Thursday’s session was her first chance to run some, though.

“We have a tractor at home,” Sarah Ascherl said. “She likes equipment. I figured she’d like it.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Hunter Charon, 4, of Fort Dodge, finds out the bucket on a small excavator makes a pretty good chair Thursday during the weekly Touch A Truck program.

Hunter Charon, 4, of Fort Dodge, tried out the “extra” seat on the machine, the bucket for scooping up dirt.

His dad, Adam Charon, enjoyed watching his son learn.

“He’s got lots of these at home,” he said. “Excavators, cranes, diggers, rollers, you name it.”

When he was done, Charon had a big smile matching his son’s big smile.

“He listened well,” he said. “He listened to their instructions better than dads.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Robert Stydyvin, of Fort Dodge, takes a picture as his girlfriend’s son, Joey Culver, 3, gets to operate a small excavator Thursday during a Touch A Truck session at Citizens Central.

Tucker Reeves, 6, of Fort Dodge, also had a turn in the excavator.

He had fun.

“If dad buys one I’ll drive it all around,” he said.

The brand new machine, provided by Mid Country Machinery, was demonstrated by Brandon Kinseth, who patiently showed each student which levers did what.

He also had to disappoint Reeves a little bit, unless his dad has exceptionally deep pockets.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Mid Country Machinery’s Brandon Kinseth, right, gives Tucker Reeves, 6, of Fort Dodge, instructions as Reeves gets to operate a small excavator Thursday during the weekly Fort Dodge Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department Touch A Truck program.

“This costs about $70,000,” he said.

Joey Culver, 3, of Fort Dodge, not only enjoyed the experience, his mom, Keli Culver, found it a good experience for him, too.

“I’m really happy that he’s engaged,” she said.

She only had one moment of “worry.”

“When he spun it a little,” she said.

Thursday was the second session of the program. Last week, the participants got to try out a crane.

Erin Habben, a recreation technician with the city of Fort Dodge, said the goal is give the participants a program they can attend that isn’t sports related.

“They get a chance to learn something new about trucks,” she said. “Most of them are enjoying it.”

There are three sessions still to come. The next one will feature Fort Dodge Public Works Department trucks. The Fort Dodge Fire Department is on tap after that and the sessions will finish with the Fort Dodge Police Department.

Each starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday evening at Citizens Central, 617 Central Avenue.

The program does require that participants preregister and there is a fee to attend. Signup is available at fdiowa.org/parks. Habben also said the fee is pro-rated for those who sign up for the last sessions.