Reverse field trip: When the farm visits the students


Duval Elementary second graders learn about Lily, a three year old pygmy goat owned by Priscilla Kirby on Tuesday.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 6:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 6:01 p.m.

What do spray paint, chewing gum and adhesive bandages have in common?

Any second-grader at Duval Elementary School could give the answer: All three products are made from pine trees, particularly the sap.

Farm Credit of Florida employees volunteered to visit Duval and Irby elementary schools Tuesday as part of Ag Literacy Day.

The hope is that the young students will have a better understanding of agriculture, the second-largest job sector in Florida.

“Not only that they get it, but that there’s an appreciation for it,” said Jennifer Couch, a Farm Credit loan officer.

At Duval, the day started in the classroom, where Couch read to two groups of students about the history of agriculture.

Gathered around her on the floor, the second-graders started to call out questions.

From the first group: “What kind of food does a pig make?”

The boy seemed surprised by the answer: lots of things, like hot dogs and bacon.

“I eat bacon all the time!” he said.

For many of the students, Couch said, this is the first time they hear about how food gets to their plates.

After story time, the 32 students trooped outside to a pavilion where Lily the pygmy goat waited for them.

Priscilla Kirby passed around pieces of leather, rawhide and goat wool as she talked about all the ways humans use livestock.

When it came time to pet Lily, most of the children put out a tentative hand, but a few jumped away.

“I don’t like goats,” said Layla Robertson, 8, as she eyed the animal. She said she’d touched a goat before, but it was wet and smelly, and she had no interest in repeating the experience.

Next was the bean-planting station, where Couch gave the students plastic cups filled with soil. After poking a hole into the dirt, each student dropped in a Navy bean, and Couch splashed some water over the top.

At the other end of the pavilion, Roger Ward talked about cotton and timber.

Holding up a $1 bill, he asked, “Is it paper or cloth?”

Students were again surprised to hear the answer. Ward showed them how fibers are laced through “paper” bills, which are in fact made of cotton or linen.

Everyone’s favorite station seemed to be the last one. The lesson about wheat may have been lost on the children after Felecia Decoursey told them they’d be getting a slice of pizza and a glass of milk, provided by the Alachua County Farm Bureau.

Farm Credit volunteer Jason Beutke said the program at Irby was nearly identical, except those students met a week-old dairy calf. Instead of livestock, the group of 140 second-graders learned more about beef and dairy operations in Florida.

Munching happily, 8-year-old Duval Elementary cousins D.J. Slater, Michael McCloud III and Deldrick Goston examined their agriculture coloring books and talked about their morning.

All three boys enjoyed learning about money the most. They liked petting Lily the goat, too, but none of them want to be farmers.

“No,” said D.J., shaking his head. If you’re a farmer, “you gotta be out there in the hotness.”

Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or erin.jester@gainesville.com.

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