For the last 20 years, kindergarten students in Decorah have visited a local pumpkin patch. First, the children listen to a story about how pumpkins grow. Then they enjoy pumpkin cookies before heading down to the patch to pick out their very own pumpkin.
"The kids get so excited," said teacher Marilyn Sensor.
The patch is at the home of kindergarten teacher Marilyn Sensor. It started because Sensor and another teacher wanted a place to take students to learn how pumpkins grow. So Sensor and her husband, Chuck, decided to plant the patch.
"My husband had poor health, but this was something he could do. He could ride on the tractor and lead the kids down here and he could read to them and he really enjoyed it," said Sensor.
Chuck Sensor passed away about ten years ago, but Marilyn has kept the patch going in his memory.
"My brother helps put manure on it, my son-in-law does the tilling and my daughter and granddaughter help plant, and then I get to weed it," said Sensor.
One day in October, all the kindergarten sections and students with special needs get bused to the pumpkin patch, 40 people at a time. This year, more than 170 people visited the patch and picked pumpkins.
Marilyn Sensor specifically grows pumpkins between eight and ten pounds so they're easier for the students to handle.
While the day is certainly fun for the students, Sensor also works hard to keep it educational. She said she's loved opening the patch up each year for the students.
"Kids do come back and tell me one of the things they remember from kindergarten is the pumpkin patch," said Sensor.
A memory to last a lifetime thanks to a kindergarten teacher dedicated to making learning fun.
This is Marilyn Sensor's 34th year teaching kindergarten, and she plans to retire at the end of the school year. She hasn't decided for sure yet, but this could also be the last year for the pumpkin patch.