New barn a classroom for Caroline Co. ag students

Managing Editor

RIDGELY, Md. (May 17, 2016) — With a new livestock barn and about a dozen farm animals, agriculture students at the Caroline Career and Technology Center are adding hands-on animal care to their learning experience.
Following a ribbon cutting on April 25, students moved in nine pigs and four lambs and are using the 28 foot by 48 foot pole building to learn first-hand about breeding, feeding and other animal husbandry practices as part of their Curriculum in Agricultural Science Education program.
“Our goal is to teach them how to produce animals and prepare them to go home and be able to do that on a budget,” said Jodi Callahan, an agriculture teacher at the center.
Callhan said about 80 percent of students in the agriculture program were graduating without direct experience with livestock.
Having the livestock barn changes that drastically.
Students in the animal science classes will take rate-of-gain data on the animals to study how the most efficiently get animals to market weight and look how to impact genetic traits through breeding decisions.
Students who are also members of the FFA chapter have each been assigned an animal to care for and groom for showing at local fairs this summer.
“They’re going to get the show experience that should pretty well validate what we’re doing in class,” Callahan said.
After moving to Caroline County from Kent Island, Md., sophomore Savannah Spedden said she saw the FFA program as a way to work with and learn more about animals.
At this point, she said she’s interested in veterinary medicine and marine biology as career choices.
“I was really looking for something to get involved in,” Spedden said. “I’ve always been around animals, just not livestock.”
Spedden said having the barn as another classroom will be helpful.
“It’s definitely good to have exposure to livestock,” She said. “That’ll be a lot better than just studying pictures.”
Callahan said another goal of having livestock at the center is to have market-ready animals processed locally and then used in the community either in the center’s culinary program or elsewhere.
“Our goal is to focus on our community and education of our students,” Callahan said. “Being able to tie that together is the backbone of FFA.”