Archive for Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Rural roots at heart of FFA Day at the Farm

May 2, 2007

If you want to know what kinds of dangers are posed by the overpopulation of deer, the difficulties and the rewards of pig farming or about the extensive use of beef byproducts in making everyday items, all you need to do is ask a third-grader.

The third-graders from Tonganoxie Elementary School spent Friday morning at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds learning about what life is like on a farm from national FFA organization members for this year's FFA Day at the Farm.

"We wanted the public school kids to know what it is all about," said Nicole Allen, Tonganoxie High School senior and this year's director for the event. "It is important so they are aware of what goes into farming, so they don't think their food just comes from the grocery store."

Groups of students were taken around the fairgrounds to seven different stations, where they learned about farm animals like dairy cows, market cows, pigs, chicken, horses, sheep and goats.

The students also were given a feed and equipment demonstration by Leavenworth County Cooperative officials and a wildlife demonstration.

Jacie Hilker's favorite part of the day was learning about horses.

"I love horses. They are my favorite animal," she said. "I like being around animals. That's my favorite thing, animals."

Austin Ettinger agreed.

"I've always wanted to own all of the horses in the world," Austin said.

The FFA Day at the Farm not only gave youths a chance to learn about the typical animals found in a farm, but also got them close enough to pet most of them.

"That's something kids don't always get to do is be that close to livestock," said Chris Baska, one of the third-grade teachers at the event.

Baska believes it is important for children to learn about the rural and agricultural, "lifestyle the people of Tonganoxie used to have."

While some students liked to interact with the living animals, a few of them were more interested in what was left over after the animals died.

Elaine Weely showed the children differences in the teet of a meat-eating carnivore and a plant-eating herbivore with the skulls of a mountain lion and a deer. She also showed the youngsters how the placement of eyes on an animal would tell them if it were a predator or if it were lunch.

It was Harrison HeikeI's favorite part of the day. Heikel said he loved to see the pelts of coyotes, deer and mountain lions.

But wouldn't touching the remains of these animals be kind of gross?

Not for a third-grade boy.

"It was pretty cool," he said.

The students also treated to tours of the many vehicles used on a modern farm.

Friday marked Corey Jansen's third year at FFA Day at the Farm. The THS junior was one of the FFA members in charge of showing the youths how many of the vehicles, such as tractors and grain trucks, worked.

"They have no idea what it is," Jensen said. "It's neat to let them come out and let them know how we do stuff."

To end the day the third-graders were treated to ice cream they made themselves.

The children paired up and were given the ingredients necessary to make fresh ice cream in one bag, and in another they were given ice and rock salt. The pairs took turns vigorously shaking the bags of ice and rock salt mixture and playing a little game of "cold potato" until the ice cream was ready to eat. Without gloves, the bags of ice were too cold for the third-graders to shake for any long period of time.

TES has been taking third-graders out to the fairgrounds for the annual event for more than eight years.

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