April 18 – BUNKER HILL – “We’re going to see if you can jump as high as a goat,” Alexandra Merritt told a cheering group of Pipe Creek kindergartners on Friday.
Merritt blasted the youngsters as high as they could as she stood inside a pen with two goats.
On the count of three, the kids did their best and jumped.
“It’s pretty high, but those goats can still jump higher than you,” Merritt told kindergarteners.
For some children, learning that goats can jump higher than people was their first experience with the farm animal.
Maconaquah’s annual Down on the Farm Day offers plenty of opportunities for first-time kids. The long-standing tradition of high school’s Future Farmers of America is a chance for young children to interact with farm animals.
“I know a lot of kids have never seen a cow before,” said Maconaquah FFA senior and president Grace Jaberg.
The event serves as both a petting zoo and an educational opportunity. FFA students bring their own animals to school for the day, including cows, goats, chickens, ducks, pigs and rabbits. There was even a chinchilla and a story hour with a dog.
Kindergarten students at Pipe Creek Elementary had the opportunity to comb a cow, brush a pig and milk a goat on Friday.
Some kids even dressed up for the role, wearing cowboy boots and overalls.
The animals were kept in enclosures where children could come in, pet them and feed them. FFA students answered kindergarten questions and told them about their animals.
“Every year is a great experience for them,” said Pipe Creek kindergarten teacher Kathy DeRozier. “They always do a fabulous job.”
Zoie Laber brought her Muscovy Duck, Maverick, to Down on the Farm Day.
Maverick is not your traditional white duck. Using a flashlight, Laber showed the students the green shimmer of Maverick’s mostly black feathers. She also pointed out her secret white feather hidden under the black ones.
Laber said the white feather indicates the duck is domestic and cannot survive in the wild.
Outside, the students asked Maggie Hughes how her heifer got so big.
“She eats a lot,” she told the students as they took turns combing the cow.
Down on the Farm Day usually coincides with FFA week in February, but a snowstorm postponed the event until last week.
“Almost everyone in the FFA says it’s their favorite time of year,” said agriculture teacher Dawn Baker.
“It’s something I always look forward to,” Jaberg added.
Down on the Farm is also an opportunity to introduce children to agriculture and FFA from an early age. When students get older, they can take agricultural courses and join FFA.
“I know some kids will go home and say to their parents, ‘We have to buy a cow now,'” Jaberg said.
Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.