VALDOSTA -- Children and adults all over Georgia are learning where eggs come from, how a cow makes milk, what farm animals eat, why chickens can't swim and many other "farm" facts.
Started in 1977 by Fort Valley State University professor Glenwood Hill, the "Life on the Farm" program has conducted more than 600 shows viewed by more than 750,000 people.
Fort Valley State University's Cooperative Extension program began supporting and funding the program in 1985.
The university's College of Agriculture also recognizes the importance of the program, promoting and supporting it fully.
"When you discover that in 1800 90 percent of the population lived on farms and today less than 2 percent live on one, you realize that people today do not know where their food and other products come from," said Kim Newberry, program coordinator. "Our grandparents knew, but as time passes on, less and less know things that are truly important. If we don't teach our children (these things), who will?"
"Life on the Farm" is a live, mobile exhibition designed to provide a first-hand knowledge of farm life and how it affects people on a daily basis. The program has four basic objectives -- to provide basic information about farm occupations, to encourage an appreciation for the farm as a primary source of food, to develop an awareness and understanding of people's dependence on farmers and their work, and to increase people's knowledge of farm animals and plants.
"I am a believer in the hands-on approach to learning," Newberry said. "You can see a cow in a book or see how a sheep is sheared ... (through) pictures in a book. But until you see it in person, you really don't get the full effect."
Newberry said sometimes during their programs they turn various raw products into "finished" products. Throughout their hundreds of presentations, program presenters have made ice cream, peanut butter and butter for viewers.
"I (hope) to learn how to spin wool into yarn so this can be seen and now just (talked) about with the children," Newberry added.
The program is more than just a petting zoo as participants get the opportunity to learn about the various farm animals up close and personal.
"Hopefully, children come away with an awareness of agriculture and an appreciation for it and the people who still make this their (life's work)," Newberry said. "Farming is not a job. It is a way of life. Hopefully, there is a child out there who has an interest in agriculture. I tell children all the time that (when choosing a career) remember agriculture. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc., are fine choices, but someone needs to feed America, and (farming) is a very respectable career choice."
"Life on the Farm" is free. Shows are scheduled on a first come, first served basis.
For information, please contact Kim Newberry, "Life on the Farm" coordinator at Fort Valley State University at (478) 825-6899 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.
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