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Students get hands-on experience with local agriculture
A group of Tadmore Elementary School kindergartners plays with baby chicks Thursday at a Mar-Jac Poultry exhibit during Ag Fun Day at the school. - photo by Tom Reed

Kids at Tadmore Elementary School know there’s more to a farm than animals that say “moo” or “oink.”

As a part of Ag Day, local agriculture organizations helped students experience different aspects of life on a farm.

“We had the idea to start Hall County Ag Day about five years ago,” said Billy Skaggs, Hall County cooperative extension coordinator and organizer of the event. “Groups started talking about the lack of knowledge about agriculture among young people. Most children are at least three generations removed from having a farm experience.”

Students were able to touch animals at a petting zoo, learn about pollution and soil conservation, try to rope a calf, watch the cow-milking process and look at large farming equipment.

“This is the future of agriculture right here,” Steve Brinson, president of the Hall County Cattle Association, said as his 3-year-old son roped a plastic cattle. “Someday they’ll be farming or making our food.”

At the Soil and Water Conservation District tent, soil conservationist Louise McPherson talked to the students about pollution and how to take care of soil.

“Who likes to eat pizza?” she asked as second-graders raised their hands. “What parts of it come from the soil? What are your clothes made of, and where does that come from? The soil. We need to take care of it, don’t we?”

At the Jaemor Farm station, manager Drew Echols showed students how to fertilize and plant fruits and vegetables.

“Most kids don’t live on a farm,” said Natalie Valencia, a fifth-grader chosen to help with the Ag Day activities. “Maybe some of them will want to grow up to be a farmer.”

For 13-year-old Caleb Jarrard, agriculture is in the family. At one station, his mom, Nancy, allowed students to pet Tank the horse as a representative of the American Quarter Horse Association.

In a nearby booth, Caleb talked to students about how to prevent different types of pollution. Using a small replica of a town with a sewage treatment plant, factory and lake, he demonstrated how drainage and dirt drift into a lake.

“Don’t throw trash outside or it washes into ditches and streams,” he said, using a spray bottle to mimic rain that causes runoff pollution. “Do you want all that nasty stuff in your drinking water?”

“No!” shouted a group of kindergarten students.

On the opposite end of the field, Mike Gillum, a salesperson for Chandler Equipment, showed students how farmers use large trucks and GPS equipment to efficiently farm fields.

“Once you set this GPS, the farmer doesn’t have to steer, but this piece of equipment costs $10,000 and this truck costs $60,000,” Gillum said as the children touched the large wheels of the truck. “Farmers have to spend a lot of money and work really, really hard to grow our food. You should thank a farmer whenever you see one.”