Some 1,200 Murfreesboro City Schools students experienced the sights, sounds and smells of life on the MTSU farm and dairy May 12 in Lascassas, Tennessee.
It took 19 buses to bring the third-graders from 12 city schools — Black Fox, Erma Siegel, Hobgood, John Pittard, Northfield, Overall Creek, Reeves-Rogers and Scales Elementary, Bradley and Cason Lane Academy, the Discovery School at Bellwood and Mitchell-Neilson Schools — from the city to the country on a picture-perfect day.
The field trip is part of an ongoing partnership between Murfreesboro City Schools and MTSU.
The two entities have collaborated to bring more than 21,000 students for three annual Education Days at MTSU women’s basketball games and teamed for a multitude of student-teaching events and educational and academic endeavors through the years.
“MTSU is a fantastic partner,” said Meri Leigh Smith, coordinated school health supervisor with the City Schools. “They have been very gracious in hosting all 1,200 students, supplying milk and being on hand to be educational spokespeople.”
MTSU faculty, students and staff, city schools’ faculty and staff and even help from Leshan Dixon, Rutherford County Health Department health educator, and others combined to facilitate the handling of two groups of about 600 students in separate two-hour field trips.
While one group visited four stations atop the hill with the dairy facilities, another group of 300 moved through four stations featuring agriculture.
The dairy area stations included feed and equipment and MTSU chocolate milk, the milking parlor, the pack barn and compost and an education station, where the students learned how cream is turned into butter.
“I really liked the cows,” said Caitlen Olsen, 10, a Discovery School at Bellwood student who was shy about approaching a cow.
“When I petted the cow, it felt both rough and soft. The cow produces one of my favorite drinks. I love milk.”
The agriculture-related stations featured bees, beekeeping and honey, feed and equipment, chocolate milk, plants, vegetables and greenhouse and a city schools’ education area making a craft out of lima beans.
MTSU senior plant and soil science major Viktoria Coan of Franklin, Tennessee, told the youngsters that while their parents may buy food at grocery stores, it actually comes from the farm.
Murfreesboro City Schools participates in the national Farm2School Network program.
Smith said the students who visited the farm and dairy, officially called the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience Experiential Learning and Research Center, already have been shown the transportation and distribution side of the process. By the end of the term, they will learn about good gardening practices.
“They’re getting to experience a little bit of that today,” added Smith, who said she hopes future City Schools students can visit the MTSU property.
MTSU faculty member Alanna Vaught coordinated the effort for MTSU.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)