Hands-on is best teacher

Published 8:36 pm Thursday, October 30, 2008

SEABOARD—Some things are better learned hands on.

On Tuesday, more than 200 elementary students from across Northampton County learned just that at Northampton County Cooperative Extension Animal Agriculture Day.

“We realize that the kids have a real disconnect as to where their food comes from,” said Extension Agent Heather Lifsey, who coordinated the day. “We wanted to show them where their food comes from.”

Lifsey continued by saying that Animal Ag Day also exposes the school children to different options and aspects in farming. She noted the event also gave teachers exposure to possible future speakers for their classes.

During the event students made their way around the Seaboard Lions Club property to 13 stations with different educational topics relating to agriculture and animal agriculture. Those topics included: soybean food, aquaculture, bees, forestry, turkey, horse, sheep, swine, goat, cattle, crops, farm to food and the 4-H Club.

The occasional squeal was heard from the fourth-grade students as they came in contact with an alligator or a curious turkey.

Lifsey said a few young people from the Northampton County 4-H Club were on hand to pass on their experiences in 4-H.

“It’s nice for them to come,” she said. “We’ve educated them and now they’re educating others.”

One of those 4-Hers is Thomas Chamblee, 15, of Cofield, who spoke to each of the 12 classes about raising turkeys.

Assisted by two, 21 week-old male turkeys, Chamblee taught the students how to raise and show a turkey to competition judges. Recently, Chamblee came in seventh showing turkeys at the State Fair in Raleigh.

Chamblee said his presence at Animal Ag Day was to encourage students to get involved with 4-H.

“We want more people in 4-H,” he said.

Chamblee, whose ultimate goal is to be a wildlife officer, said his presentation helped students see what it would be like if they wanted to raise a turkey or participate in 4-H.

“If you get involved with it and close to it, the more things you learn,” he said.

The consensus among the fourth graders was Animal Ag Day was fun.

Squire Elementary School students Kayley Howard and Aliyah Mason said they both enjoyed seeing the horse at station six and learned a lot about where their food comes from.

“We learned what horses eat,” said Howard. “Yeah, and never pull a horse’s tail.”

Christopher N. Savage from Willis Hare Elementary School summed up his opinion up in one, bold sentence.

“Here’s your headline: Fourth grade enjoys all of it,” he said.