Children have a blast when they visit a farm — or, in this case, the assortment of agriculture-related stations manned by MTSU students and volunteers for the third Agricultural Education Spring Fling Tuesday, April 12, in the Tennessee Livestock Center.
More than 750 Rutherford County elementary school children and nearly 1,000 people altogether participated in the MTSU agritourism class-led field trip.
Children in seven area schools’ elementary and kindergarten classes discovered life on the farm as professor Alanna Vaught and her 20-student class, joined by about 100 MTSU students and other volunteers, made farm life fun and interesting for the youngsters. Most of the young visitors live in the city.
Ethan Adams, 5, of Blackman Elementary School, described the field trip as “awesome.”
What did Adams think was most fun about the two hours his class spent in the livestock center?
“Everything,” he said, adding that the MTSU farm- and dairy-produced chocolate milk he got to drink also was — you guessed it — “awesome.”
“The animals were cute,” he continued, referring to a horse, miniature horse, dairy cow, sheep and chickens in the main arena. “I liked every single animal.”
Junior agribusiness major Austin Brennstuhl of Eagleville, Tennessee, said the agritourism class project was an “opportunity to help kids understand about agriculture and teach them about the needs of people.”
The annual event has become very popular, said Vaught, who had to turn away many teachers’ and schools’ requests to participate because the excellent volunteer support she receives can only handle a single-day event right now.
“This close to the end of the semester, our students can’t miss classes,” she said, adding that her agritourism class and 35 students worked eight hours at the Adventures in Agriculture Day April 9 at Lane Agri-Park in Murfreesboro.
“One hundred students from one department is a pretty big deal,” Vaught said of the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience student support for the spring fling. “They take ownership of it.”
In addition to Blackman, other schools attending this year included La Vergne Lake, Cedar Grove Elementary, Middle Tennessee Christian School, Thurman Francis Elementary, Christiana Elementary and Campus School.
A $1,300 University College public service grant led in sponsorship, which included TriGreen Equipment, Rutherford Farmers Cooperative, Rutherford County Farm Bureau, Rutherford County Soil Conservation District and Cumberland Tractor & Equipment LLC, among others.
To learn more about the Ag Education Spring Fling and opportunities to attend in 2017, call 615-898-2523.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)