Third-graders from all Greeneville and Greene County schools enjoyed Kids’ Day on the Farm Tuesday at the University of Tennessee Research and Education Center.
The event, put on each year by the Greene County Partnership Agribusiness Committee, is designed to educate students about agriculture.
“Agriculture touches all of our lives, and that’s what we want them to understand,” center Director Rob Ellis said.
Ellis said the event has been going on “well over 20 years” and has been hosted by the Research and Education Center the past 15 years.
Volunteers greeted the students as they arrived and led them through five stops.
Big Spring Master Gardner Association members talked about gardening and how fruit and vegetables are grown. Farm Bureau Women demonstrated churning butter and gave out samples of the homemade butter. They also told the students about dairy farming as well as other types of farms, with the message that agriculture isn’t just for men.
Next, the students went for a hayride before taking a snack break, where chocolate and vanilla milk and ice cream, as well as dairy-free options, were provided.
Finally, before boarding their buses and going back to school, the students spent the last of their time on the farm at the petting zoo. The petting zoo included goats, a mule, a horse, two dairy calves, a beef heifer and a Great Pyrenees puppy named Henry.
Local dairy farmer Eddie Southerland brought the dairy calves. Southerland said he has been bringing his livestock to this event for years.
“This is the only time a lot of these kids will be this close to these animals,” Southerland said.
Between stops, volunteers pointed out farm equipment and explained what the various machines are used for.
Ellis said more than 500 children and almost 50 adults were expected. Students arrived at the farm throughout the morning, from 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. All were third grade students from each of the city and county schools, as well as home-schooled students.
“It’s a fun day for the kids, but we also want it to be educational,” Ellis said.
“I think its very important to instill in their minds the importance of agriculture because someone had to grow or raise their food,” said Farm Crew Leader Cory Malone.
Malone and Ellis both said they hoped the students would leave the event with an understanding of where their food comes from before it reaches the grocery store.
“I would love for them to have an understanding of how that all comes about,” Ellis said.
Numerous volunteers, some from the Agribusiness Committee as well as others not involved with the group, were on site to help throughout the day.
“We host the event, but we can’t do it with just our staff,” Ellis said.
Ellis said Kids’ Day on the Farm is one of his favorite events that the Research and Education Center participates in.
“I love the fact that our schools still want to participate in this event every year,” Ellis said.