Monday, May 19, 2008

Ag Day

I was a lucky kid. I grew up knowing where my hamburger came from, the ice cream in the freezer and the amount of hard work that it took to get it from the field to the plate. But a lot of kids had no idea, many still don't, where their dinner came from. Asked that question and many will say-the grocery store.

As a former FFA member, it was always a fun day each spring to get the horses, cows, pigs and tractors cleaned up and travel to schools in our district for a project called Food for America. As it grew, it got moved to a static location in town where more kids could get the opportunity to experience things that I take for granted. County livestock producers groups as well as the Farm Bureau started attending and educating those attending on the field to plate process.

I am happy to be an alumni of the FFA as well as an FFA mom now. The Food for America project has grown into a nationally recognized program that is the model for the national how-to manual and now has moved to a larger location at the Linn County Fair grounds in Central City, IA. Over 1400 school age kids-preschool to middle elementary from all of Linn County and surrounding areas attend the Ag in the Park Day. Sheep shearing demos, cows to milk, combines to climb on and yes, this year they got to see dog agility and learn about what roll dogs play in getting their happy meal in the box.

One of the kids working on setting up this event asked if Alec would do a demo with the dogs. Alec had already committed to working with the sheep, so I figured, what the heck, I can take a day off work. We already had planned on taking the ducks up-good way to hand tame the wiggly little things. Pip, Peep, Commander Cody and Sarah were well behaved and the ducklings were tired after a day of being petted. So I trouped up with Clairee, Lace, Moose and Fred on Friday. Arranged the agility equipment in the beef arena and waited to see what would happen. WOW-it was a blast. All the dogs did some sort of demo-Lace did jumps, Clairee did the teeter, Moose did the dog walk and Fred, well Fred had a hard time keeping his focus off the sheep ;0) We talked about what roll the dogs play in helping out livestock farmers, the types of dogs that we have that work. Then we did our agility demo. And of course everyone wants to pet the dogs, so what better chance to talk about dog safety! By the second group of kids, Moose had it down pat. Mom does her speel about how to meet a strange dog, the do's and don'ts of introducing yourself to a dog then we walk over, lay down and get belly rubs-he was in heaven. So all day long we rotated out groups of kids, did demos and lost my voice. Alisa was great and came up with Ana and DB, gatorade and bannanas. Set for the day.

After all was said and done, 1000 plus kids. Dogs were, no pun intended here, dog tired at the end of the day. All were on their best behavior and can't ask for a better representative of any of the breeds. Love kid friend dogs and ones that demonstrate the results of proper training and socializing. It is amzing to me still how this group of 4 different high school kids-Linn Mar, Alburnett, Central City and North Linn, get it all coordinated, run it smoothly and manage to give many of these kids a once in a lifetime experience--in one day! Makes me proud to play a small part.

I should have some pictures to post this week-Moose was a ham for the camera as usual, Clairee and Lace were perfect little collies and Fred, again, had all sights set on helping shear sheep-silly boy.

Later gators....

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