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Open house relates role of education center

August 07, 2005|By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

In a day, a 1,500-pound Holstein cow consumes about 38 pounds of silage, 10 pounds of hay, 27 gallons of water and 38 pounds of grains and other feed.

So if all that goes in in a day, then what comes out? It's better than you might think.

That same cow is capable, in a day, of producing enough milk for 150 glasses, four pounds of butter, eight pounds of cheese or seven gallons of ice cream, according to an agricultural trailer on display Saturday at the Western Maryland Research and Education Center.

The trailer, filled with agriculture educational displays and activities, was featured in the center's first open house.

The 500-acre center near Keedysville is part of the University of Maryland's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The open house was set up to teach people about the role of the center, Director Frank Allnutt said.

"It's geared toward the general public - to show what we do here and what the college does," Allnutt said.

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The center conducts dozens of research and demonstration projects, including corn hybrid and small grain variety improvement trials, pasture management, animal health, perennial weed control, cropping systems and integrated pest management, according to a center brochure.

Wagon rides through the center's fields were available as part of the open house, giving spectators an idea of the facility's various agricultural research projects.

The event included displays on well and septic management, money-saving tips, soil conservation and different types of pests.

One of the displays gave children and adults a lesson on the importance of washing hands. Spectators were given a few drops of "germ" lotion on the hands and then told to move inside a darkened tent with fluorescent lights.

While no trace of lotion can be seen with the naked eye after it's rubbed in, when placed next to the lights, the hands glow, indicating germs.

Participants then are told to wash their hands with soap and water in a sink outside the tent, and then led back inside under the lights to see how good a job they did washing.

The point is to teach people that clean hands help prevent the spread of disease-causing bacteria.

Diane Miiller, an extension educator in Montgomery County, Md., said the exhibit, called Neighborhood Grime Watch, was started by Frederick, Montgomery and Howard counties about four years ago. Since that time, about 18,000 have gone through the exhibit.

"It's been really quite a lot of fun and a great way of teaching ..." Miiller said.

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