Students get up close and personal with farm animals

Lindsay CravenStaff Writer

April 20, 2013

NC Cooperative Extension held its annual Agriculture Awareness Day for Yadkin County second graders on April 11.

Ag Awareness Day started about 20 years ago here in Yadkin County,” said Melissa Staebner, Extension Agent and 4-H Youth Development Coordinator for the county. “It used to be called farm animal day. We started at the Yadkin county Park ball fields and we had animals tied to the fence.”

Since then the program has evolved and moved to various locations in the county. It came to rest at lone Hickory Arena in Yadkinville in 2010. Today the event can offer safe housing quarters for the animals and a sheltered area for students and volunteers to talk about what agriculture means to them.

The event leads second graders through 12 stations to learn about various areas of agriculture. This year the stations were dairy, horses, goats, sheep, beef, chickens, animal byproducts, veterinary medicine, insects, honey bees, field care and where our food comes from.

Students were treated to a special snack and informed of where every item came from and why agriculture made it possible.

“Our presenters are actually our older 4-H youth and youth who have been involved in the 4-H program or youth that are associated with Cooperative Extension,” Staebner said. “We all work together so that we can educate these young people.

A total of 23 second grade classes attended the event from the eight elementary schools in the county. Approximately 400 students took part in the event.

“The kids really seemed to enjoy this event,” said Ashley Dezern, a second grade teacher at Courtney Elementary. “Some of my kids have never been to a farm before so they’re being exposed to things they are not used to being exposed to. They really seem to enjoy being around the animals.”

Staebner said that due to growing class sizes Cooperative Extension did have to scale down this year’s event some. They added additional classrooms but had to do away with the mock rodeo they did in years past.

“We do hope to incorporate that back in next year but since we were short staffed and the addition of some classrooms we were not able to accommodate it this year,” Staebner said. “We also used to do a sheepdog demonstration and have since taken that out of the program and if we’re not able to reinstate the mock rodeo then we hope to bring back the sheepdog demonstration in the future.”

Overall Staebner said that the event was a success and she thinks it provided teachers, students and volunteers a valuable opportunity to share and gain knowledge about the largest industry in the county.

“They love the opportunity to get out here and see things close up and hands on,” Staebner said. “That’s why we feel so fortunate because we can help the classroom teachers provide a hands on opportunity. They are teaching the scientific concepts within the classroom and here they can actually see the life cycles of these animals.”

Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at lcraven@civitasmedia.com.