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Kids have a big day down on the farm

Ag Day lets youngsters see where their food comes from

POSTED: May 21, 2008 5:01 a.m.
TOM REED /The Times

Shauna Smith of Wildlife Wonders rubs the belly of a pot-bellied pig Friday at the Hall County Ag Day at Jaemor Farm Market.

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Hall County preschoolers and kindergartners got a feel for farm life Friday in the second annual Hall County Ag Day at Jaemor Farm Market.

The event featured a petting zoo courtesy of Wildlife Wonders, a hay ride and educational stations sponsored by local agricultural groups including Truelove Dairy, Hall County Cattleman's Association, USDA Farm Service Agency and Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network.

The event was coordinated by Billy Skaggs, extension director of Hall County, and Drew Echols, tourism director at Jaemor Farm Market. Echols said he created the event to introduce kids to farming and show them where the food comes from.

"Folks nowadays are so far removed from farming enterprises," he said.

Echols said the event has been "great so far. We look forward to seeing it expand every year."

Shauna Smith of Wildlife Wonders ran the petting zoo, which was not featured in last year's Ag Day.
The petting zoo included a silky chicken, a lionhead rabbit, a pot-belly pig, a Nigerian dwarf goat and a kangaroo.

Smith said she loved the event because it was an opportunity for her to get "paid to play."

"Some of these animals are foreign to them (kids). One child came up and said the calf was a camel, so they get to learn what the animals are," Smith said.

Caroline Hargrove and Jennifer Lavigne attended the event with the Mom's Club of Gainesville as apart of their "Friday Flamingo."

Hargrove's daughter, Emma, a 3-year-old, loves animals, and was excited to see the variety in the petting zoo.

"They will have their own experiences. That's how they really remember them (farm animals) not from a book," Lavigne said.

In the shed at Jaemor Farm, local agriculture agencies set up tables and display boards. Greg Vaughan of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources displayed skins of native animals, including opossums and raccoons.

Vaughan also set up a touch box with items in it ranging from a coyote skull to quail wings that kids could touch but not see.

Vaughan said all the kids were both excited and scared about the touch box, but when it came to the animal skins on display the most common question he received was, "Are they alive?"

Louise McPherson and Buddy Bellflower helped run the soil conservation table for the U.S. Department Agriculture Natural Resources and Conservation Services.

McPherson showed examples of topsoil, subsoil and parent material soil and had the kids build a soil profile. She also had a soil display to show what happens to grass and soil when it rains.

"It's important for them to learn this (soil preservation). Look where we are depending on oil from other countries. We better not be depending on food from other countries," McPherson said.

Skaggs said this year was easier to plan after such a great turnout last year. Last year, the event brought in nearly 350 people. This year, five local elementary school and some homeschoolers attended the event.



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