By Melanie Yingst
MIAMI COUNTY — Local youth went home with more than just the experience of petting a goat or milking a cow at the Miami East High School’s FFA annual Ag Day at Miami County Fairgrounds on Friday, May 9.
Thanks to a grant from the National FFA organization, USDA Rural Youth Development and help from the Ansonia High School’s FFA chapter, all kindergarten and first grade students from Troy City Schools’ elementaries and Miami East Elementary went home with vegetable plants.
Each child received two tomato plants, and one cabbage and bell pepper plant as part of their agricultural field day hosted by the Miami East FFA.
Freshman FFA students Katie Bodenmiller, Alyssa Westgerdes and Emma Linn taught the students the parts of the plant and how to take care of them at home as part of their station.
“We’ve been sharing with them how important it is to know how to grow their own food and that food doesn’t just appear at the grocery store,” Bodenmiller said. “We showed them that they can take the plants home, feed and water them and grow their own food themselves.”
Bodenmiller said her favorite part of sharing their FFA knowledge with the youth of Miami County is showing children how fun gardening and growing food can be.
“I love FFA and my favorite part of FFA has been Ag Day because it teaches them things they aren’t exposed to every day,” Bodenmiller shared.
As the trio shared the news that they would be going home with vegetable plants with Cookson Elementary students, one kindergartener, Ronise, cried out, “Ew! I hate tomatoes!”
Yet, the little students gathered round the table to see what it takes to grow their own plants at home.
Westgerdes said she enjoyed showing students how easy it can be to grow the plants in the own containers at home.
“It’s been fun sharing with them how easy growing their own vegetables can be,” Westgerdes said. “They’ve really liked learning all the fun facts like how the plants start out small and can grow so big.”
Linn said she liked watching the students faces light up when they learn all the different garden facts.
“They really liked learning about how a hornworm can eat an entire tomato in one day,” Linn said. “I just like seeing their smiles on their faces as they are learning and now they can go home and share with their families when they plant their own vegetables.”
Local families and farms also assisted with the petting zoo where students could milk a cow, pet a goat and shear sheep.
Cookson Elementary kindergarten students Brady Campbell, Gabe Cole and Kelyn Williams shared their favorite experiences at Ag Day.
“I liked the cows because the part in the middle is squishy when you milk it,” Campbell shared. “I liked petting the animals.”
“I liked the goats and seeing their little horns,” Cole said.
“My favorite part was the yogurt because it comes from cows and it was so good,” Williams said.
More than 40 FFA students taught the sessions including milking cows and eating yogurt, took a hay ride around the fair grounds and learn more about the animals that are raised for food production.
The Miami County Soil and Water District, Miami County Farm Bureau assisted the students at the stations throughout the day. The annual Miami East FFA Ag Day was funded in part by the annual FFA Ag Banquet and fund raisers.
For more information about Miami East FFA, visit www.miamieast.k12.oh.us.
Melanie Yingst can be reached at (937) 440-5254, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews