FFA group delivers ag lesson for city youths
By CARYL VELISEK
WESTMINSTER, Md. — Eighty kindergarten students from a city school, Cranberry Station Elementary School had a lesson in agriculture May 10 at Westminster’s Winters Mill High School.
They got to see and touch and get up close to some farm animals and talk to their owners, some of the FFA students at Winters Mill, during Feeding America Week.
The youngsters were bussed to the high school in two groups of 40 each, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
While they were there the FFA students talked to them about the farm animals they had brought in from home, let them touch them and answered questions about what the animals eat, how big they get, and many more.
There was also a large tractor on display for them to see and several small children’s tractors for them to ride on and have a tractor race.
The wide-eyed enthusiasm was apparent on the young faces and in the questions they posed.
Nick Parrish of Westminster has sheep and he had two of his Suffolk-Hampshire cross sheep for the children to see and question him about.
Both of Nick’s parents were in 4-H when they were young, he said, and encouraged him to join 4-H and show animals.
He has been in 4-H since he was eight years old and is now in his first year with FFA.
Michele Smith doesn’t live on the farm but has been in 4-H for six years and FFA for two.
She brought a two month old Jersey calf she obviously is very proud of, and that she will show this year, from Good Fellowship Farm near Westminster.
Nate Ostrum lives on a farm near Westminster where he and his family raise ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys. He said his mother likes, especially, to take care of the geese he had brought for the day.
Andrew Rawlings lives on a seven acre farm at Silver Run and is in his third year with the FFA.
He brought two young pigs, Hampshire Chester White crosses, to talk about and to show the youngsters. He and his family have a small, seven acre, farm, and he said he would like to farm when he finishes his schooling.
There were also some long and short haired rabbits and some goats.
Teacher, Diane Latene, said the students plan and set up the program themselves.
The program is a great opportunity for the FFA students to practice their organizational and public speaking skills, according to Latene.
“And it’s also an opportunity for these younger children to learn about farm animals and it’s all free,” Latene said.
“It’s a wonderful program,” she added.
Winters Mill FFA advisor, Diane Safar, explained that the program was a part of the Food for America Week program Winters Mill has done since the school first opened ten years ago.
“I work with the same kindergarten teachers each year,” she said, “and we host the same number of students each year.
“We had a few more (types of) animals this year, but approximately the same number. We had both geese and ducks this year and we eliminated the “planting seed station” and added an additional number of animals.
“The kind of animals we bring changes with what’s available. The FFA students bring the animals so we may not have the same animals available each year. But we always have eight stations. And one of the students brought in the large tractor this year.”
Winters Mill High School which is in Carroll County and near the western end of Westminster, currently has 20 FFA members, Safar said.
“The number fluctuates from year to year. A few years back, we won an award for our increased membership,” she said. “Our numbers dropped last year, but they have increased again this year.
“The students love to talk about their animals and they do a great job with the kindergarten students. They amaze me each year,” Safar said.“At the end of the day we allow our high school students to visit the animals also, so we actually will have educated about 150 students today about livestock, 80 from kindergarten, and 60 or 70 high school students who are not in FFA.”