Nearly 1,000 fourth-graders set to learn during School-To-Farm Days at UNH
DURHAM — Fourth-grader Griffin Lechner has never really thought about where wool comes from, but on Wednesday afternoon he and his fourth-grade classmates from Lincoln Street Elementary School in Exeter learned from a local sheep farmer all about the techniques they use to process the materials harvested from animals raised at Blueberry Hill Farm in Candia.
Kirin Asselin, 14, is homeschooled, and she had two baby sheep with her during School-To-Farm Days at the University of New Hampshire’s Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center. Asselin talked about how she hand-fed Liam and Beast, and told the students how she shears her animals twice a year to get wool for spinning.
At the display next to Asselin, Kirin’s younger sister, Lila, 12, talked about the two 3-month-old goats she owns with a group of fourth-graders from Greenland Central School. Lila explained that they hand milk their goats when they mature and that her family’s animals are small compared to some other dairy breeds.
Students also learned from UNH researchers and students, vegetable growers, soil experts and maple syrup producers. Organizer Debbi Cox said the three-day School-To-Farm event is geared toward educating students about where their food and milk comes from so they can become better consumers.
Even though the annual event is in its 30th year, Cox said it is more important than ever to teach children about farming because there are many open jobs on the market, and finding ways to sustain the global population will present new challenges in the next few decades.
Cox said there were 968 public and private school students from Rockingham and Strafford Counties who signed up for the event this year.
Gail McWilliam Jellie, director of agricultural development with the state’s Department of Agriculture, also was in attendance Wednesday.
“Agricultural education is important for a couple of reasons. For kids to hopefully have an interest sparked in careers, maybe for the future, but also if they are not going to be in a career in agriculture, to learn to be a good neighbor, understand what agriculture is, how it affects our economy, and how it relates to our society here in New Hampshire,” McWilliam Jellie said after the lunch break.
This educational opportunity is sponsored by the N.H. Agricultural Experiment Station, N.H. Agriculture in the Classroom and the Rockingham and Strafford County Farm Bureaus and will wrap up today.