Approximately 700 students from Bullard Primary School and Bullard Elementary School were given the opportunity to learn about how agriculture affects different aspects of their day-to-day lives, as well as interact with many farm animals during the annual Bullard FFA Barnyard Buddies Day, held Wednesday, May 16, at the Bullard High School Agriculture building.
The annual Barnyard Buddies Day is a community service project sponsored by the Bullard FFA. Students enjoyed a day filled with many different events focused around agriculture.
“The purpose of Barnyard Buddies Day is to teach the younger students who attend about agriculture,” said Bullard FFA advisor Charlotte Main. “We want to show them that without agriculture, we would not be eating, having places to live, or even have clothes on. We teach the students about a number of agriculture skills in a fun and interactive way, allowing them to use their senses to see, smell, and touch animals and agriculture products they may have never interacted with before. We like to explain to them the food on the grocery store shelf doesn’t just appear, that there are hard working men and women who help to produce the food every day.”
FFA members and sponsors brought a variety of animals to the event for the young students to interact with in a petting zoo, kittens, donkeys, baby chicks, goats, rabbits, mice, ducks, guineas, and more.
“Of course the kids always love to pet the animals in the petting zoo area,” said Main. “The group leaders and station leaders always enforce to the students that the animals are not always cute and cuddly; one day, they’ll provide food, fibers, or different things that allow us as humans to live. We try to do it in a fun way to where they can interact with the animals at one station, then learn what those animals offer us at the next station.”
Also during the agriculture event, younger students were able to learn through a variety of stations outside of the Bullard High School agriculture science building, including horse rides, dummy calf roping, hay bale obstacle course, learning agriculture lessons from Farm Bureau, planting sunflower at the BHS agriculture greenhouse, cotton gin demonstration, and riding along a trail on an old-fashioned trailer hay ride.
“A lot of times in the world we live in today, we see negative posts about agriculture,” said Main. “We wanted to bring in through the number of demonstrations and event how farmers actually care for their environment. They also care about the people they feed – they’re not only feeding us but they’re also feeding their own families. People in agriculture are very aware of how they treat and leave the land; they truly are stewards of the soil.”
Students also learned from FFA students about cotton and its uses in different everyday products through the use of an onsite cotton gin. Aaron Sanders with Southwest Dairy Farmers, along with the organization’s mobile dairy classroom, was also at the event, teaching students about the importance of milk and how a cow is milked.
“It was great to have Aaron with Southwest Dairy Farmers at this year’s Barnyard Buddies event,” said Main. “He was able to reinforce to the students, with the help of the cow and the dairy classroom, what we were teaching them – about agriculture and the men and women who work on farms and make it possible for us to eat and have products that come from farms and dairies. He also drove home the fact that it’s important for these younger students to drink milk and eat dairy products so they can grow up to be strong with healthy bones. He also showed how the milk comes out of the cow and how it gets to the store shelf. There were a lot of kids, and even some teachers in this new generation of educators, who had never seen a cow milked.”
Main also emphasized the goal of having her FFA program’s members to interact with the younger students at the annual event, in hopes of sparking an interest in the minds of the students as they advance to middle school and high school levels.
“Barnyard Buddies Day helps our FFA students interact with younger students,” said Main, “which is always a positive thing for an organization. It also exposes students at a young age to the FFA program and that we have a great program; we are able to show them what we do, as well as show off our facilities, in hopes of drawing their interests to show them what they can be a part of in a few years. The ultimate goal is they draw off today’s experience and realize how blessed we are to have farmers still around, working hard to fulfill the needs of our nation.”