WMS students get an ag education
WORTHINGTON -- If the fifth-graders at Worthington Middle School didn't believe a chicken could run up to nine miles per hour, they witnessed it on Friday morning.
WORTHINGTON - If the fifth-graders at Worthington Middle School didn’t believe a chicken could run up to nine miles per hour, they witnessed it on Friday morning.
That’s when a squawking bird broke loose from captivity and ran under vehicles, along the chain link fence of the tennis courts and dodged more than a few attempts at capture. Finally, after a tiring escapade, the chicken took interest in the goat display and was scooped up by WHS FFA member Cody Gravenhof.
As it was returned to its owner, Alyssa Williams, it squawked some more - all to the delight of the middle school students.
Normally, Ag Day at the middle school is more educational than entertaining, but having a combination of the two is sure to have the fifth-graders remember their encounters with farm animals.
Each year, the Worthington FFA Chapter presents Ag Day for students, teaching them about everything from what to feed beef and dairy calves to general care of swine and the speed of which turkeys - and chickens - can run.
The day is always filled with questions from the fifth graders, many of whom have never visited a farm.
At the chicken display, for example, the students were asked how many eggs a chicken lays per day. After hearing responses ranging from three to 1,000, Williams replied that most hens lay just one egg per day.
Then, when Williams said there are 25 billion chickens raised in the world, one student chimed in, “They’re going to take over the world eventually!”
The trio of chickens were on display next to an Eastern wild turkey, brought in by freshman FFA member Kristina Shorter. By comparison, Shorter said her birds can run 25 mph (the hen was not brought out of the cage), and can fly up to 55 mph. Some of her family’s birds have been used as Paycheck, Worthington’s racing bird, in past years.
The wild eastern turkeys can live up to three or four years in the wild, and their young - poults - stay with their moms for the first year of their life. The birds are colorblind, have no external ears and their gobble can be heard from up to a mile away.
FFA members Ben Ahlschlager and Ryan Newman spoke to students about the beef industry, explaining how the animals are cared for and providing a “general idea of where their meat comes from and how it’s raised,” Ahlschlager said.
At the dairy display, freshman FFA member Hunter Buntjer taught students about milk replacer and feed for baby dairy calves, how they are raised and the type of products they produce.
While no one asked if the cows produce chocolate milk, Buntjer said he did have one student ask if dairy animals produce eggs.
The two-month-old Holstein calf, named Sally by the trio of FFA members leading the dairy program, garnered quite a bit of attention.
So, too, did Albert the pig.
Temporarily housed in a small crate, Albert had rutted around enough to rip up a dog bed FFA member Morgan LeBrun had placed in the pen for him to rest on.
Joined by Kourtney Bauman, the two taught students about sows, gilts and pigs, and how they are raised on the farm.
LeBrun shared that her family has 2,000 pigs on their farm, and the pigs go to market at 280 pounds.
Using Arnold as a model, she pointed out where the bacon comes from, as well as the ham.
“Yeah, but don’t tell him - he’s too young yet!,” said one student.
LeBrun said the purpose of Ag Day is to teach students the basics and have fun.
“I think some kids have never seen something like this before,” she said. “We want them to learn the basics and have some fun too.”
Next week, the Worthington FFA Chapter will celebrate Ag Week, with events planned each day. On Monday, FFA members will compete in Minute to Win It; Tuesday is a pizza lunch for FFA members; Wednesday is Drive your tractor to school day - with a tractor pull over the lunch hour; Thursday is an ice cream eating contest and Friday is a round bale rolling competition during homeroom.