Kids milk the experts on agriculture
Marc Valero | Highlands TodaySEBRING It's the biggest outdoor classroom in these parts, with about 1,200 third-graders over three days looking like little buckaroos with their straw cowboy hats, getting down to the business of learning about agriculture.
Published: October 17, 2012
Published: October 17, 2012
It's the 13th annual Ag-Venture at the Highlands County Fairgrounds, where area agricultural leaders present a lesson and give students a hands-on experience making butter, juicing oranges, planting seeds, petting a calf, touching a baby alligator and much more.
It's surely one day where when these kids go home and mom asks what they did in school they can't say "nothing."
Students, like Avon Elementary third-grader Izaiah Melendez, are eager to get involved with the hands-on activities.
As Melendez waited in line to pet a calf, his teacher, Danielle Respress, asked "You boys want to milk a cow?"
Melendez quickly replied, "right now?"
Respress responded, "after this."
After petting the calf, Melendez zipped over to the simulated milking station where he squatted down to try his hand at drawing some water from a rubber udder.
Repress has been with the school district for 12 years, but it's her first year teaching third-grade so it's her first visit to Ag-Venture.
"It's great; it's a good experience for them; they've been looking forward to it for a week."
You can just see the excitement as a class of students arrived at the alligator learning station, which was under a tent.
"Awesome, whoa and holy Jones!," where some of the exclamations students blurted out as they viewed the gator hides and wallets and purses made from gator hides.
While most of the students offered positive comments there always seemed to be one girl in each class with a negative "eww."
When Michele Provan told the students, "We are going to learn about vegetables today," a girl said "eww."
When Randy Harris of Parker Island Gator Farm held up a picture showing where gators are slaughtered, one girl said, "eww.'
Parker Island Gator Farm owner Genie Tillman served students a sample of gator meat she had deep fried on the spot in the tent.
Woodlawn third-grader Quan Shuler said, "I ate one; that was good."
Should they serve alligator meat in the school cafeteria once in a while?
"Yes," said Shuler and his classmate, Angelina Velez.
Woodlawn Elementary third-grade teacher Jaci Stocking said, "Oh my gosh, the kids absolutely love it. It's what we look forward doing with the kids.
"They learn so much from it, that's what I like about it."
It's amazing how much they remember, she added.
Ag-Venture Chairman and co-founder Darlene Phypers said, "Everything is going smooth. We are just real proud of everybody; we've got a lot of volunteers and it's working."
The animals students see up close include: cows, goats, a horse, chickens, turkeys, pigs and ducks.
About 150 volunteers help guide the students through the hands-on activities at 14 different stations.
Around 1,200 third-graders will attend Ag-Venture during its three days Tuesday through Thursday.
Woodlawn, Memorial, Park and Avon elementary schools attended Ag-Venture on Tuesday.
Lake Country, Lake Placid and Fred Wild elementary schools and home schooled students, Lakeview Christian School and Walker Academy are scheduled to attend today.
Cracker Trail and Sun 'N Lake elementary schools and four private schools are scheduled on Thursday.
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