August 2014
Youth Matters

Getting Familiar with Farming

A member of the Randolph County Young Farmers Committee explains bovine treatment and health as a part of the Ninth Annual Randolph County Farm Day.  

Outdoor Learning a Big Hit at Randolph County Farm Day

Wisdom is easy to carry, but difficult to gather, and, according to the fourth-graders in Randolph County, so is cornmeal.

The students rotated through 17 stations set up by the Randolph County Young Farmers Committee during their ninth annual Farm Day at Kiwanis Park April 25 in Wedowee. FFA students from the county assisted with the event.

Ben Johnson, chairman of the young farmers committee in Randolph County, said 160 students from three middle schools attended the event.

"A lot of kids have never touched a horse or seen pigs," Johnson said. "They hear about (our event) and think ‘Yeah, we’re going to get to go to Farm Day when we get in fourth grade.’"

For Wedowee Middle School student Mick Bailey, Johnson was exactly right.

  Breann Noles stands with her horse as she explains how to keep a horse healthy and the equipment required to ride a horse.

Bailey was among students who enjoyed exhibits ranging from volunteer firefighters to equine management.

"I’ve been looking forward to this all year," said Bailey, whose friend Caleb Dempsey chimed in behind him.

"If you want to get rid of a fire you make a smaller fire to make a pathway. That way when the big fire gets there, it doesn’t have anything left to burn," Dempsey said after attending a controlled-burn demonstration.

Sherry Sprayberry, a fourth-grade teacher at Wadley Middle School, said outside learning seems to be a hit with her students.

"I love bringing these kids here every year – this is our favorite field trip," Sprayberry said. "The kids don’t have to pay anything to come, and they learn something at every station they go to. They come back, and we ask them what their favorite thing was. No two answers are the same, but they love the hands-on stuff."

Something as primitive as grinding corn into cornmeal allows students to stare history in the face, said Dennis Delaney, a soybean Extension specialist at Auburn University and member of the East Alabama Farm Equipment Association.

"We try to teach them about corn and what it meant in the old days," he said. "We just want them to have an appreciation of where corn comes from, and that it’s not as easy as buying a bag of cornmeal from the store; they had to shell it and grind it."

Fayette County residents and Master Gardeners Jack and Sheila Bolen said it’s a joy to educate and provide entertainment.

"It’s always fun to see the kids pick seeds for what they think a plant grows into," Sheila said. "We let them see the results of the seed and what it grows into, then we familiarize them with what it is. They can relate it to what they eat at home."

A. J. Watson is an ag communications specialist with Alfa.