National Guardsmen heading to Afghanistan to teach farming

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HARTFORD -- Sixty members of the Wisconsin National Guard are getting ready for deployment to Afghanistan.  Their mission is an unusual one, but one well-suited for people from the Dairy State.

The focus of their deployment is farming.  Members of the 82nd Agribusiness Development Team will be training Afghans in everything from growing grapes, to taking care of livestock, to bee-keeping. "Agriculture is one of the things that has severely been impacted or has suffered in Afghanistan since they've been going through 30 years of war," said Major Paul Felician.  "Our mission is essentially to assist the Afghan government in improving their agricultural efforts."

A send-off ceremony was held for the soldiers Saturday at Hartford High School.  In a few weeks, they will leave their families for training in Mississippi.  From there, they'll head to Kuwait for a 12 to 15 month deployment.

For Sergeant First Class Chris Beron, the sacrifice is being away from his family. "Leaving my wife and kids for awhile is tough but the mission we're going on, I think is worth it," Beron said.