A wooly experience: Fourth-graders get farm lesson

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Craig's fourth-grade students do.

The youngsters ("Kids are baby goats, we're children," East Elementary School student Sierra Arellano said.) spent part of Friday at the Moffat County Fairgrounds learning about agriculture and food safety for Fourth Grade Ag Days, sponsored by the Moffat County Cowbelles.

"There are so many kids who don't know about agriculture," Cowbelle Diane Prather said. "They think food comes from a grocery store."

Using a curriculum partially provided by the Beef Council, the Cowbelles gave students a historical perspective on food storage, preparation and safety as well as discuss animal care and the predators that threaten agriculture.

"In the olden days, they'd hang the meat inside and leave it on the counter, and that's not good," fourth-grader Adrie Camp said.

Students said that seeing the baby animals was their favorite part of the trip, but that there were many surprises.

Watching a sheep-shearing demonstration was interesting, but the pieces of wool they were able to take home weren't what they expected.

It had lanolin on it. "They put that in cosmetics," student Whitney Schnider said.

The greasy feel came as a shock.

Small contests helped the students keep track of what they learned. Each completed a question-based scavenger hunt as they moved from station to station.

"I didn't know we learned so much," Xavier Peed said.

After returning to the school, students made posters demonstrating some concept of food safety.

"You have to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom or at least before you eat," Schnider said.

Learning that lesson was fun, she added.

Students had a cookie race to practice good handwashing techniques. They raced to a bucket with water and soap and had to scrub their hands for 20 seconds, rinse them and dry them before racing to the other end for a cookie.

"Ag day was cool," Camp said.

"It was gnarly -- that's street language," Peed said.

The Cowbelles have been hosting Fourth Grade Ag Days for seven or eight years, Delaine Brown said.

The theme this year was "Moffat County Agriculture Provides Safe Food," and focused on how food safety standards have improved during the past 100 years with the addition of laws, education and inspection requirements.

"We safely proceed from farms to processing plants to make sure you have the safest food possible," Brown told the students.

Partnering with the Cowbells on Fourth Grade Ag Day were the CSU Moffat County Extension Office, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Moffat County 4-H and the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

"It was a great day for kids who don't have access to farms to learn about agriculture," said Judy Foster, East Elementary School teacher.

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