By MARY ALICE ALDRIDGE Special To The J-H
Pulling off a successful Kindergarten Farm Fun Day for about 500 local students recently involved more than fine work by the hosts, the Ware County Farm Bureau women’s committee. It required the cooperation of a number of organizations, school officials and high school and middle school agriculture students.
The kindergartners from seven system schools spent a half day at the Okefenokee Exchange Club fairgrounds getting a crash course in farming in south Georgia.
They got a close look at unique machinery needed to harvest crops and other farm tools and heard presentations about the care of domesticated animals.
Kids being kids, they were happy to “get acquainted” with goats, chickens, hogs and heifers; many of them found giant harvester machinery exciting; but all of them were thrilled that before they finished, they enjoyed a cold, ice cream treat and took back to class a bag filled with marvelous gifts — good for school or at home.
Volunteers from FFA and Ware County 4-H who showed farm animals and kept students moving through the display arenas included Cash Stewart, Mr. Jay Bennett, Cash Stewart, Leanne Ard, Preston Kuhbander, Caden Henderson, Kenna Waters, Clayton Whitley, Chasity Whitley, Gabion Hardy, Logan Shubert, Jordan Aspinwall, Jesse Simmons, Jordan O’Berry, Hinkley Hood, Kyla Henderson, Courtney Barber, Alexis Howell, Reagan Baldree, Hanna Dorminey, Emma Johnson and Mackenzie Grantham.
Yancey Brothers Equipment, provided a timber skidder and mini-track-loader. Use of the machines was explained by two Ware County High School senior FFA executive board members, Clayton Whitley and Gabion Hardy.
Row-crop farmers Victor Aldridge and Ricky Clark shared high-boy crop sprayers and the uses of this equipment on various row crops — cotton, corn and soybeans.
Ware County’s Post 5 Chief Ranger Thomas Whitley provided a forestry plow and spoke to the students on wildfires and the uses of the plow. The Forestry Commission also donated Georgia Forestry knapsacks with water bottles for middle school and high school student volunteers.
Joe Maxwell, of Buckbarn Honey, and Ware County-UGA extension agent Joe Slusher made presentations about beekeeping, showing an empty beehive and abandoned honey comb frames.
Blueberry harvesters were there, thanks to Bennett’s Tractor Service and Repair, and Ware County High senior FFA members Benito Lopez and Lewis Alverson shared the mechanics of harvesting, answering questions about how a harvester gathers berries.
Animal husbandry presentations were: Preston Kuhbander, Christopher Kuhbander, Susan Whitaker, Marin Jeffords, Tassie Jeffords, David Bazemore and Angel Jared (goats); Cash Stewart and Taylor Harden (hogs); Linda Bennett, mother of Jay Bennett (chickens); and Ware County Middle FFA member Colleen Barber and WCHS FFA member Colt Henderson (heifers).
Okefenokee RESA environmental specialist Kathy Murray acquainted kindergartners with some animals that reside in the swamp.
At midday, the young students enjoyed bottled water and cups of ice cream, donated by the National Dairy Association, courtesy of dairy farmers Lannis and Angie Moody and Candice Rice. They ate the treat seated on small hay bales provided by Garrett Ganas, of Ganas Pecan Farms.
Before boarding the buses to go back to school, students were given goody bags that contained a cow fan with cow eye-holes, a dairy pencil, two-ounce container of Mixon Farms blueberries (Donald and Phillip Mixon) and a Farm Bureau “Farm Animals” coloring book and crayons.
Teachers receive a pack of 100 hardwood tree seedling, donated by the Georgia Forestry Commission. Campuses can reap the beauty of flowering trees and shade.
The women’s committee wished to thank all the farmers, foresters and stakeholder businesses that contribute funds to support the ongoing efforts of the committee’s “Ag in the Classroom.”
Activities and events during the school year included: second grade Ag Trade book share, trade books, bookmarks and pencils shared with each school and every second grade class, and “Ag in the Classroom” teacher training, including a “mini-farm tour” with Georgia Ag in the Classroom representative Donna Rocker.
The contributors include Alex and Cathy Cornelius, Victor and Mary Alice Aldridge, Tommy Sweeney, Lannis Moody, Donald Mixon, Rob Goble, Tommy Rouse, Robbie Winn and Melvin Waters.
The committee also wished to thank FFA advisors Danny Bartlett, Jay Bennett and Cherry Henderson, as well as Dr. Lynn Barber, recently named Ware County school system CTAE director.