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Kids down on the farm

May 10, 2001

Kids down on the farm



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Tyler Giles moos at a cowphoto: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

SHARPSBURG - James Port, 6, got to feed a cow some hay Wednesday, but jumped back when he got slimed.

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"Ew. She got her tongue on me," the Eastern Elementary School kindergarten student said.

More than 1,000 kindergartners from Washington County schools are touring the Washington County Agricultural Education Center near Sharpsburg this week, said Lori Taylor, extension educator for the Maryland Cooperative Extension.

They're getting eyeball-to-eyeball with goats, sheep and three-day-old calves. And they're understanding where the food they eat comes from.

"I think we've learned a good bit today. It's been a great experience for the kids," said Robin Snyder, who accompanied her son Jonathan.

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Jeff Semler, another extension educator, took the kids on a trip around the barn, where they got up close and personal with the animals.

Children asked Semler why the baby goats, called kids, follow their mother around the pen (because she protects them) and how you tell the boys from the girls (look under their tail).

The students went to eight different learning stations and took a hay ride to the University of Maryland's nearby experimental farm.

"I really think this is nice, so they can learn things other than what they see every day in the city," said Michele Shaffer, who was there with her daughter Alexis, 5.

Shaffer said she learned a thing or two herself - about animals that chew cud having four stomachs.

A local dairy farmer, Brenda Leggett, demonstrated a milking barn for the students and let them put their fingers in a milking machine to show them that the pressure is gentle.

Extension Educator Mary Ellen Waltemire played a nutrition game with the students. When she asked them where shrimp come from they answered "restaurant," and "store" before she told them, "the ocean."

Local teenagers involved in 4-H volunteered to be tour guides.

Jamie Beckley, 13, whose family has a crop farm on Hopewell Road, said it's a good community service project.

"They're cute. They ask pretty weird questions," she said.

"They'll sleep well tonight," Snyder said.

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