Cooler temperatures and a bright sunny day greeted the fifth-grade students from Parker-Mathis Elementary School as they enjoyed the fifth annual Farm Day at the Cat Creek Cattle Co. on Thursday.

The students visited seven stations located in several areas of the farm that offered glimpses into the world of agriculture.

Tommy Stalvey, a fourth-generation farmer, was excited by the gathering of students at the farm. The idea for the field trip came from a dinner conversation with his sister, a former teacher at Moulton-Branch Elementary.

"Missy (Eason) said she was only able to spend about a week on agriculture in the state," Stalvey said. "I talked with Ron Smoak and John Baker, and we decided to start a field day together for the kids."

Five years and a few minor adjustments later, the program is offering students an opportunity to see livestock up close, hear about the FFA and 4-H programs, learn about forestry, visit with a veterinarian, talk with the Georgia Extension about commodities and make ice cream with the Fort Valley State exhibit.

Stalvey said a different school brings its fifth grade each year because of the number of students.

"One year we tried to do two schools, and it was entirely too many students," he said. "We've had up to 250 kids, although we have about 75 today."

As he talked, a Massey Ferguson tractor with a trailer full of 10- and 11-year-olds pulled up. The thrill of being out and seeing all the sights was evident. As Nicole White talked about the care of her steer, Batman, the kids leaned forward as one of their classmates brushed his coat.

Stalvey sees a need for the students to spend a day on the farm. "The kids have no experience with agriculture," he said. "They think everything comes from the store. I think they are always surprised to discover the byproducts that come from beef like makeup, toothpaste and other things."

At noon, the students gathered for their lunch brought from the school. The Department of Agriculture supplied the students with milk and ice cream. By 2 p.m., all of the students had visited each of the stations and returned to the school in time to catch the bus after a full day on the farm while the exhibitors started planning for next year.



To contact Tanya B. O'Berry, please call 244-3400 ext. 239.



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