August 2016
Youth Matters

FFA Sentinel: Farm Day Fun

Guntersville FFA conducts thrilling inaugural event.

Kids these days – especially city kids, but even some kids from the country, too – don’t know much about the farm, according to Casey Smith, agriscience teacher at Guntersville High School.

"That’s why my FFA members; my wife, Natalie, and I; and the teachers at Guntersville Elementary School planned and conducted a Farm Day for students at the school," Smith said. "It was the Guntersville school system’s first ever Farm Day, and, boy, did it ever go over big!"

 


Left, baby chicks were a favorite exhibit of the participants, but chickens are much more than soft, cuddly playthings. Poultry is a leading agricultural commodity in Alabama, particularly in North Alabama, and is responsible for a whopping $3.6 billion of the state’s economy.

The school system’s agriscience students furnished many of the animals and exhibited them, built special props needed, set up and manned the various exhibits, and volunteered many hours of labor to the project. In addition, the agriscience students helped the kids to identify the different animals. In many instances, the kids added a dimension of touching or petting some of the animals such as the fuzzy baby chicks and the furry rabbits. Other exhibits included baby goats, ducks and dogs.

The Alabama Beekeepers Association had a special display depicting the fascinating work honey bees do as they gather nectar from plants and convert it to honey, and the plants’ flowers are pollinated, as well.

 

Besides the petting zoo feature of the Farm Day, the kids were fascinated by a display on honey bees that depicted how the tiny insects gather pollen from plants such as clover growing in the environment and do their magic of making honey.

The kids were also thrilled in learning how to milk a cow, thanks to a mechanical simulation of a cow that allowed the students to have actual hands-on experiences in the manual art of milking.

Students also learned how farmers of yesteryear shelled corn for their livestock by using a hand-driven sheller. The kids were amazed at how an ear of corn covered with kernels of corn could be reduced to a mere cob rather quickly by the sheller.

Guntersville Elementary Principal Julie Ann McCulley related that some 28 classes of at least 475 students loved the Farm Day.

"We are especially grateful to the Smiths, Casey and Natalie, for making the event happen!" she said.

Second-grade teacher Shelia Buckelew gave her full endorsement to the project, noting that the kids’ attachment to the animals was immediate.

 

The furry rabbits were somewhat familiar to the kids – probably due to Easter. This familiarity enhanced the kids’ eagerness to hold, pet and ask to take their rabbit friends home with them.

"They wanted to take their newly discovered friends home with them!" she said.

To make the outside activity even more appealing, a sack lunch with pizza was an added bonus for the kids.

Smith was quick to credit community supporters such as tractor and implement dealers, the Alabama Beekeepers Association, the Alabama Farmers Federation represented by Kyle Hays and Brad Cox, parents and a host of community patrons who furnished items needed for the Farm Day.

"The event garnered all kinds of interest and support," Smith said. "I’m sure we’ll be asked to do it again!"

 

Cecil Gant is the coordinator for Sand Mountain-Lake Guntersville Watershed.