Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lusk Ag Expo

Yesterday I was busy manning a station at the Lusk Ag Expo, where the local 3rd grade spent an entire day learning about agriculture. A variety of ag people from our community provided live animal demonstrations, or hosted stations where they taught the students about a specific ag-related topic.
Here are a few highlights from the day:

The kids got to meet "Uggs," a hound owned by a local game warden. Part of his job is predator control on area ranches.

Uggs's owner put on a demonstration where he drug a hide around the fairgrounds, then let his dogs loose to track the "raccoon." The students were able to sit in the grandstands and watch the dogs roam all over the hill you can see in the back of this photo as a they followed the trail to this tree, located right next to the grandstands. The dogs were very interesting to watch, and while they were tracking the owner was explaining various aspects of each dog's personality, and about tracking in general.

 From the hounds, the kids headed to a horse demonstration put on by a great friend of mine I've known since grade school. She is a very talented horse trainer, and brought in the gelding she showed all throughout her 4-H years. She demonstrated various trail activities, and explained how they were also skills desirable in a ranch horse - like being able to open and close a gate while mounted.

Then she answered a lot of questions while "Snipe" stood patiently by. At the end of her session each kid got to pet the horse, which was a highlight for many.

 Up next was my next door neighbor, who is a a renowned stock dog trainer with several sheep and cattle dog trial wins under his belt. He brought his nine year old Border Collie, Shawn, and demonstrated working sheep with a dog.

 He also took the time to explain various commands, then demonstrate them. He can speed up or slow down this dog at any time with a specific whistle command, and was literally having him take the sheep around him in a circle as a talked to the kids.

In between the outside demonstrations were stations where the kids learned about a specific topic. These included making lip balm with honey and beeswax and discussing the role of bees, learning about how wheat is grown and used to make bread, and my station, where we discussed what cows eat and how the rumen works. We also got into how the rumen enables cows to digest and get nutrients from grasses, hays and other feedstuffs that we as humans cannot digest, then convert those feeds into meat or milk, which humans can digest. Furthermore, we talked about what would happen if the rancher didn't feed his cows or make sure they had enough grass (they will starve, die, get sick....), and then what will happen to the rancher? (They will got out of business, have no meat to sell, lose their money, lose their ranch, and my personal favorite answer of the day - they will have no meat to sell and we will have no meat to eat)
I had a blast, and loved the small groups that enabled kids to ask questions, and me to really get the point across of how much ranchers care about their animals, and how important a healthy diet is for livestock, just like it is for kids. It was a great day, and I'm already tossing around ideas in my head for next year.

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