RES Students Learn About Life on the Farm

Thursday, November 8, 2012
RHS FFA member Tyler Watson displays his prize-winning goat and answers questions from elementary students

The RHS chapter of Future Farmers of America continued its busy schedule last week, bringing some of the different aspects of agriculture to curious young minds. FFA members and students in sponsor Amy Dawson's Animal Science classes worked in conjunction with Arkansas Farm Bureau to host a petting zoo and informational stations on the elementary school campus this past Thursday. The efforts were hugely successful, as groups of young students enjoyed the opportunity to see livestock up close and interact directly with older students on a casual basis.

"The elementary kids had a lot of fun, but the high school kids really enjoyed it, too." Dawson said. "This is a good way for the younger kids to learn some of the different areas of agriculture. Many of these (elementary) students have never seen livestock up close before."

Students going through the different stations learned about the growth process of cotton and its many uses, the value of beef not only as a food source, but also the many byproducts used in everyday life and seed germination. The displays including a live calf, pig, turkey and goat in addition to a simulated milking cow at which students were literally able to try their hands.

"It's something different for a lot of them," junior Kaylee Hartsfield, who operated the milking station and raised the prize-winning calf said. "Most of the kids who come through haven't seen or done anything like this, so they're excited."

This excitement can lead to newfound appreciation for agricultural studies, and possibly careers, down the road.

"It's fun for the students, but it also gets them involved and interested in agriculture," Dawson said. "By seeing these animals in person and actually holding a seed or a cotton boll, they have something that experience to draw from in the future."

Once involved in the displays, the young visitors quickly took an active interest.

"They want to know about caring for goats, what types of food they eat," FFA member Tyler Watson, who displayed his award-winning goat, said. "Some weren't sure about getting close (to pet the goat) at first, but when they did, they had a lot of fun."

The event also challenged the older students.

"You have to be ready for almost anything," Tyler Carter, who spoke to the elementary students about turkeys, said. "You have to be able to answer questions they have."

The displays were popular with students and teachers. Dawson says she hopes to have more projects like this in the future.

"We'd definitely like to do more things like this. The FFA students have told me they enjoy things like this and it goes well with what we're trying to do in being involved with the community."

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