Monday, March 24, 2014

“Ag Day is NOT a petting zoo”

“Ag Day is not a petting zoo,” explained Angie Williams, organizer of Avon’s Livestock Day last Friday, as we arrived and she proceeded to tell us more about what the kids were learning about. 

There were stations throughout the gymnasium and outside during the event featuring animal agriculture and the importance of livestock. Cows (beef and dairy), goats, pigs and more were represented and the kids lit up with excitement as they not only had the opportunity to touch the animals but also learn how farmers manage the animals on their farms and a lot more. The questions were endless. Kids are curious, and that’s a very good thing. Many of them don’t live on farms, so this was an excellent opportunity for them to get up close and personal with livestock.
The farmers that I talked to there were just the nicest people, but most of the farmers I know are exactly like that. You won’t find better people, or at least I haven’t.

Back to Angie’s quote. So what does that mean? “Ag day is not a petting zoo.” Too many times it seems like kids have the opportunity to see animals, but they just end up petting them and not learning anything about them. Americans become more removed from the farm every day and it’s unfortunate that so many children grow up without the opportunity to grow up on a farm and in many cases, even visit one. This is a way to bring the farm to them. And Angie does an outstanding job.

Being the dairy girl that I am, my favorite station, of course, was the dairy station. The farmer brought a Jersey heifer (basically a teenage bovine—older than a calf, but hasn’t had a baby yet, so she’s not technically a cow yet). They brought a milking machine and showed the kids how it works. The kids loved it.

After rotating through each station and learning about everything from veterinary medicine to chickens to cows, the kids left ag day more informed about agriculture, farming and how the food they eat is produced.

Everyday should be Ag Day. How did you celebrate Ag Day this year?

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