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County third-graders attend Farm Day

Franklin County Third-Grade Farm Day took place Oct. 13 at Northwest Alabama Stockyard. Groups of third-graders spent time at each of 12 stations to learn from presenters about tractor safety, showing calves, horses, soil, peanuts, pigs, corn, chicks, cotton, chemical look-a-likes and animal husbandry.

Smokey the Bear, along with others from the Alabama Forestry Commission and representatives from area businesses and organizations operated the stations, teaching about their respective topics and answering questions. Students had the chance to pet a quarter horse named Suede and try to lasso a fake bull.

Stockyard employee Julia Wilson demonstrated how to use a lasso correctly and guided students who wanted to have a try. “It helps teach patience,” said Wilson. “It’s a good challenge, and the kids enjoy it.”

Regional Extension Agent Andy Page talked about cotton, explaining where it comes from and how it’s ginned. He described the process of going “from plant to clothing.”

One goal of the day was to create an understanding of the level of responsibility necessary in being a farmer as well as the role the weather plays. “The students also gained a sense of what it takes to care for an animal,” said Franklin County Extension Coordinator Katernia Cole Coffey, “as well as the importance of using proper safety skills.”

For Phil Campbell High School agriculture teacher Caleb Beason, one goal of the day was to “instill an appreciation for agriculture and an understanding of how diverse it is.” He said it’s important for children to understand where their food comes from and what’s involved along the way.

Kayla Jennings, third grade teacher at East Franklin Junior High, said the day was a wonderful way to have fun while learning about a variety of agricultural topics. “We appreciate the opportunity to participate,” said Jennings.

Students learned about the importance of exercising proper tractor safety precautions from Boyd Trulove, Sales Manager for Trigreen Equipment.

Trulove explained that around 110 people are killed every year from tractors rolling over, noting that, on average, 108 of them are under 20 years old. “I talk about tractor safety and preventing loss of life by being unsafe on and around tractors. Most of those killed are young and don’t understand the dangers,” said Trulove.

“I had a customer who was a farmer for more than 40 years who died from a tractor rollover. It’s so important to read the operator’s manual, wear a seatbelt and educate yourself as much as possible on how to operate a tractor safely.”

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to open up agriculture to all the third graders,” added Beason. “Crops and livestock are part of it, but so are auctions and auctioneers, marketing, driving trucks and many other aspects.

“Our goal is to instill a greater appreciation for agriculture and to show how resilient our producers are and how safe our food supply is.”

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