G’Anni Milton, Tinsley Pittenger and Allison Swenson and nearly 900 other Rutherford County schools students had no idea how much MTSU senior Austin Brennstuhl wants them to know where their food comes from — and he doesn’t mean the grocery store.
The children from 10 schools across the county learned about farm life Tuesday, April 11, during the fourth annual MTSU Agricultural Education “Spring Fling” in the Tennessee Livestock Center.
Between 1,000 and 1,200 people participated in the MTSU agritourism class-led field trip to show the youngsters all kinds of farm animals and products, including vegetables and chocolate milk from the university’s dairy.
Brennstuhl, 23, from Eagleville, served as student coordinator for the event, which is operated by the agritourism class led by instructor Alanna Vaught. He said he wishes the ag spring fling could expand. The one-day event currently must limit attendance to a first-come, first-served basis.
“My heart has always been here,” said Brennstuhl, who was an agritourism class member in 2016.
“It’s what I’ve always loved — to teach kids about a lost time. … I would love to see this grow bigger and longer, add days, even having special-needs children come and get the same experience.”
The children — from Eagleville, Walter Hill, Kittrell, Buchanan, La Vergne Lake, Thurman Francis, Campus, Middle Tennessee Christian and McFadden schools — saw two corn mazes, a cornhole game, a barrel-racing horse and about 10 other animal friends, farm equipment and a beekeeping demonstration during their visit.
Milton, 4, a Kittrell Elementary kindergarten student whose mother, Monique Alsup, served a a chaperone, said she enjoyed the playground and “picked all kinds of fruit and vegetables and eggs, too.”
Pittenger, 8, a second-grader at Eagleville, said she had “a lot of fun … milking the cow, the corn maze and seeing all the animals, especially the horse.”
Swenson, 7, a second-grader at Walter Hill Elementary, liked “petting the animals, and the maze, picking the fruit and vegetables, and learning about bees.”
Nearly halfway through the event, Vaught said it appeared that everything was running smoothly. One of her checklist items was participant safety, so a student who is a registered nurse and several other students with CPR training were available during the event to help as needed.
“You want students to enjoy the experience and not be bored,” she said.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)