May 16, 2007 | By: Jeff Franklin

Most extension offices in Kentucky have an annual youth farm day, but the one put on by the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service in Christian County is a little different. This program goes the extra mile to teach children about nutrition and how their food gets to their tables. 

About 850 first graders from 11 public and private schools in Christian County visited the Phillip and Marsha Garnett farm for 4-H Farm Day. As the students arrived by school bus, they were welcomed by Christian County 4-H Ambassadors and Step Up to Leadership members, who were selected to help on the farm that day. That’s one of the big differences for this youth farm day as 4-H members not only lead the tours, but also present the lessons as well. 

“We’ve always had 4-H members as presenters,” said Toni Riley, Christian County extension agent for 4-H youth development. “We have a large livestock club, and through our livestock program, the 4-H skill-a-thon and the judging programs they can talk about these animals even if they don’t raise them.” 

Where food comes from was the main theme behind this year’s 4-H Farm Day. Each group of students was given a basket to collect farm products as they visited various stations. They saw a mother hen and baby chicks, as they learned about poultry and egg production. There was even a nest of eggs for students to take an egg from and put in their baskets. They also saw and learned about goats, beef cattle and horses, and watched a sheep shearing demonstration, where they got to keep some of the wool to put in their baskets.

One of the highlights was a chance to milk a cow, but not a real cow. It was a painted plywood cutout of a dairy cow, constructed by 4-H member James Walther. His creation gave students a chance to feel what it is like to milk a cow. Walther, a home-schooled, ninth grader, is in Boy Scouts in addition to 4-H. He made the plywood dairy cows as part of an Eagle Scout project after Riley gave him the design. Walther then got other 4-H members and Boy Scouts to help him paint the cows. Walther, who raises Angus beef cattle and Boer goats, talked to the students at farm day about beef cattle. He said he enjoyed the experience because of what the younger students took from it. 

“Many of the kids only see picture books, but now they can see a tangible thing they can look at and feel,” Walther said. “They actually get to hear what a cow sounds like, smell a farm, and see what a farm actually looks like, instead of just a picture book.”

In addition to seeing and learning about farm animals, students learned about vegetable, fruit and grain production. Christian County is one of the state’s leading producers of corn, soybeans and wheat. 

Walther also constructed “trees” so the students could pick apples and sand boxes for digging potatoes. Students then added the apples and potatoes to their baskets. A milling station was set up so students could grind corn and make cornmeal, and produce flour from the wheat. The whole experience was brought full circle when the students made real butter to spread on biscuits or corn muffins, which they enjoyed with milk.

“It brings so many different things together besides just the education to the first graders,” Riley said. “It’s all one nice big package with our leaders, our 4-H members, and the boys and girls being able to learn from them.”


Toni Riley, 270-886-6328