Many kids don't know food comes from farms

April 20, 2004|JIM LOGAN

For small children, nothing beats hands-on learning. Just ask the kids in Garrard and Lincoln counties who got up close and personal lessons last week in agriculture and biology.

At Garrard County High School, about 360 kindergartners and first-graders from the county's three elementary schools - Lancaster, Camp Dick and Paint Lick - got to see where food really comes from.

"They're so used to going to the store to buy stuff, they don't even think about where it comes from," said Melanie Warren, a first-grade teacher at Camp Dick. "You ask them and they say, 'Wal-Mart.'"

The brainchild of Ryan Williams, an agriculture teacher at the high school, the event brought together the kids and a collection of farm animals, most of which were destined to end up on a dinner plate. A calf, pigs, ducks, chickens, goats, horses and even a pair of alpacas were on hand.


The animals were brought by members of Garrard's Future Farmers of America.

It might seem odd that kids from rural Garrard County would be clueless about the origin of their hamburgers, but Williams said only about 40 percent of county students live on farms.

These being little kids, there were moments of wrinkled noses and cheerful displays of disgust. The most reliable came when Casey Underwood, a senior at Garrard, talked to the children about a heifer.

"Where does bubblegum come from?" he asked to puzzled looks. "You see those pretty little feet this nice little girl has? After they use the meat for beef, they grind up those toenails and put it into bubblegum."

The response was universal: "Ewww."

At a Lincoln County day-care center, the kids showed no such squeamishness.

Penny Sluder, who runs PJ's Toddlers out of her home in Stanford, had given the seven boys in her care a living biology lesson. She'd been teaching the boys about "all things hatching from eggs" for Easter, so an uncle loaned her 15 chicken eggs and an incubator.

They spent the next three weeks caring for the eggs and learning about the process. Seven of the eggs hatched last week.

"It was a lot of fooling with them and making sure you've got the right temperature," Sluder said. "We're happy we got seven."

The boys, who range in age from nearly 2 to 4, handled the 2-day-old chicks with the tenderness of old farm hands.

"They know how to be easy with them," Sluder said.

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