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Bugbee Children's Center Students Experience a Day On the Farm

Web image: Jennifer Huntington and Bugbee Children’s Center students with Belted with Buffy the Belted Galloway calf

Jennifer Huntington, of the Cooperstown Holstein Corporation, and Bugbee Children’s Center’s Room 204 students with Buffy the Belted Galloway calf

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Web image: A Bugbee teacher and student with holstein calf
A Bugbee teacher and student with holstein calf

Full screen view

On April 24th, 2012, Room 204 from the Bugbee Children’s Center in Oneonta visited the Cooperstown Holstein Corporation for a “Day on the Farm”. Twenty boys and girls ages four to five, and their teachers hopped on an Otsego Public Transit bus and took the ride from Oneonta to Cooperstown. The event was organized by District Conservationist, Tony Capraro, who works for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), as an outreach and education event.

“The day was set up to expose children to the farming experience that some might not ever have the opportunity to try. My son is in the class and hearing that the class was beginning to learn about composting and starting a garden I thought this was a good fit” said Capraro about the event.

When the children arrived at the farm they were first introduced to farm manager and part-owner, Jennifer Huntington, and Jeanine Harter, Soil Conservation Technician, also with the NRCS. Once the introductions were done and all the children were fitted with plastic farm boots it was off to the pig barn first, where the children were able to see that all pigs are not just pink; but white, brown and black too. Then it was off to the calf hutches, where Jennifer explained to the children why each calf had its own “house” and was not with its mommy. The children were able to pet a Belted Galloway calf named Buffy and ask questions to Jennifer about why Buffy looked different from the other calves. Jennifer explained to them that Buffy is a different type or breed of cow and is being raised as a beef calf while the others were being raised as dairy calves.

The milking parlor was the next stop on the tour where the children were each given the opportunity that very few people get anymore. The milking parlor is a double-eight herringbone set up, which was full of happy cows getting milked by machines. Jennifer allowed each child (and others attending) the chance to milk a cow by hand! While some of the children were waiting their turn it was explained to them where the milk went after the cow was milked and that milk is used for drinking and making such foods as ice cream and butter. After the milking adventure was over, the kids were brought into one of the freestall barns to see the milking herd and then took a walk around the farm headquarters.

Web image: A Bugbee student sits in the cab of a John Deere tractor at the end of the farm tour
A Bugbee student sits in the cab of a John
Deere tractor at the end of the farm tour

On the walk, the first stop was at the bunk silo to show the children what the cows eat, and the second stop was at the birthing barn where the children could see cows getting close to calving. Tower silos and the manure storage structure were also pointed out to the class from this stop. At the end of the tour Jennifer had one of her tractors available for each child to sit in and get their photos taken.

“After all the thank-yous and good-byes were said I had the opportunity to have lunch with the children. They were all talking about the events that had taken place then one little girl turned to me and said “Tony, I wish I could milk cows every day for the rest of my life.” I told her that she made my day.”

I want to thank Jennifer Huntington (Cooperstown Holstein Corporation), Otsego Public Transit, the Otsego County Meadow’s Complex and the children and teachers of Room 204 for making the day a success.

With offices in nearly every county in the United States, NRCS works with private landowners and communities on energy, soil, water, air, plants, and wildlife concerns. Conservation programs are voluntary and they provide financial assistance to eligible agricultural producers. If you are interested in how you can protect natural resources on your farm or forestland, please contact your county NRCS office.

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