Fourth-grade students from Dexter and Hagerman learn about milk production courtesy of Peach the cow, instructor Cody Lightfoot and The Mobile Dairy Classroom during the Kids & Kows & More program at the fairgrounds, Wednesday morning. Mark Wilson Photo
Fourth-grade students from Hagerman and Dexter elementary schools witnessed agriculture in action on Wednesday at Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, enjoying presentations from various experts during the 12th annual Kids, Kows & More program. The program, sponsored by the Chaves County Cooperative Extension Service and Southwest Dairy Farmers, welcomed about 500 fourth-graders from Roswell schools on Tuesday, and will welcome about 500 more from the city today.
Educational stations provide students a chance to see the intricate processes that result in common agricultural products, including demonstrations and discussion about milk production, cattle ranching, bees, sheep shearing, pecan farming, cotton production and water conservation.
Cody Lightfoot’s Mobile Dairy Classroom offers students a chance to see where milk comes from, demonstrating the milking process with a live dairy cow and milking machine.
“When that milk comes squirting out into that jar, they’re all pretty amazed at how that works, and how much she gives,” Lightfoot said. “I’ve been doing this for 13 years, and I know there are still people out there who assume (milk) comes from the grocery store. This whole program is trying to let the kids know that agriculture is important to their life, every day and in every way; not just the milk, but the whole industry.”
During the presentation Lightfoot discusses the importance of dairy to a healthy diet, sharing information about the nine essential nutrients and vitamins in milk.
“Hopefully they remember the nutrition of milk,” he said. “If we can get at them young, and convince them that they need to be drinking their milk, they’ll drink the milk for the rest of their lives. That’s pretty much our message.”
County Extension Agent Janelle Duffey said many people do not realize all of the hard work that goes into agriculture, an important lesson for children to learn at a young age.
“(Agriculture) is not an eight-to-five job, Monday through Friday — it’s every single day,” Duffey said. “It’s a lifestyle; it’s family tradition. And they work at it. That’s how they make their money. That’s how they survive.
“Without agriculture, we wouldn’t have food on the table, we wouldn’t have clothes on our backs. So this program (helps) these kids gain an appreciation for agriculture and what it does for us as a society.”
During the sheep lesson, children learn that several common items come from the animal, how the stitching of a baseball is made from sheepskin, and how the inside of a baseball contains a rubber core wrapped in wool.
Duffey says student reactions during presentations like the one on sheep provides proof of the positive effect the program has on children.
“It’s fun to watch their faces,” she said. “They’re absolutely astonished. A lot of these kids can relate to a baseball, a tennis ball, lotion, wool blankets. They don’t realize the process that all those products go through before they actually hit the shelf on the store. And they always ask lots of questions.”