Talking to the Animals!

Published 12:39 pm Thursday, October 29, 2009

SEABOARD—An expression of both alarm and wonderment crossed Diamond Lee’s face as a tiny chick was placed in her opened hands.

Northampton County Cooperative Extension’s Animal Ag Day has a tendency to do that to its participants.

On Tuesday, approximately 200 fourth graders from Northampton County Schools made their way around 11 educational stations to learn more about the one industry that is evident in their county—agriculture. Unfortunately, it’s the same industry that is being lost among the younger generation.

Interim County Extension Director Craig Ellison said the event helps students make the connection between what is grown and raised and what they eat and wear.

While Animal Ag Day traditionally focuses on agricultural animals, Ellison said the program has grown to include crops that are grown on farms.

Halifax County Extension Director Arthur Whitehead joined Ellison at station #3 to speak to each breakout group about crops that are grown in the county from peanuts to cotton.

At station #2 students learned about soybeans and the role northeastern North Carolina played in first importing the vegetable into the United States.

Laura Rogers with the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association told the students soybeans were first imported into the U.S. by way of Elizabeth City from China.

Rogers, joined by her husband, Don, and local soybean farmer Bill Johnston of Jackson, shared the varied uses for soybean,s including tile, carpet, Astroturf and even smoothies and brownies, the latter of which students got to taste test.

Other stations included bees, forestry, cattle, pigs, goats and horses. A break station for students to rest was also on site. A combination of local volunteers as well as those with affiliations with North Carolina State University worked the different stations.

For Lee, with the small fluffy chick in her hands, it was a new experience.

“I’ve never held a chick before,” said the Central Elementary student who lives in Rich Square.

As for that grimace as the chick was place in her hands it was because “its feet tickled.”

For Lee’s fellow Central Elementary classmate, Braxton Lewter of Jackson, holding a chick came a little more naturally as his family owns chickens.

When asked what he was most excited about seeing, Lewter promptly replied, “that horse,” as he pointed to a nearby station where Karra Lane of Rich Square was presenting with her four year old barrel horse named “Moonshine.”

Lewter’s mother, Sandy Proctor tagged along with her son’s class and agreed Animal Ag Day is good exposure for the children.

“I think it’s great for kids…a lot of them haven’t seen a chicken or held a chicken,” she said. “Earlier we were talking about sausage and bacon and a lot of them didn’t know where it came from.”