Writer: D'Lyn Ford
ALBUQUERQUE - More than 1,000 Albuquerque area fourth-graders will learn about dairy farming and agriculture April 18-19 on the state fairgrounds at a Kids, Cows and More event organized by New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.
"So many of today's youth are so far removed from farming that they simply don't know where their milk comes from," said Elliott Sachse, 4-H agent with the Bernalillo County Extension office. "This program allows us to bring the farm to the city to share basic information with urban kids through a fun, hands-on experience."
Kids, Cows and More, which began in El Paso in 1990, is expanding across New Mexico with support from Texas A&M and Southwest Dairy Farmers, which helped get the original program started in El Paso. About 500 Albuquerque second-graders attended New Mexico's first Kids, Cows and More event last year at the state fairgrounds. This year, programs are also scheduled in Roswell and the Clovis-Portales area.
Fifteen public and private schools, including one from Rio Rancho and one from Los Lunas, are participating in the Albuquerque event, and Sachse expects even more to join next year.
"As of this year, the Kids and Cows program is being turned into an annual event that we expect will attract many more schools in the future," Sachse said. "We can handle a lot more kids."
Participants will tour six exhibits, including a mobile milking parlor where children watch a cow being milked. A feeding and animal care demonstration will show how much a cow eats in a year, using a two-ton bale of hay, feed samples and a giant plastic model of a cow's digestive system.
A cheese and butter making exhibit will teach about the dairy manufacturing process and its history. A nutrition demonstration will feature a mock skeleton riding a bicycle to illustrate the importance of calcium in developing strong, healthy bones and a comparison of how much calcium dairy products and other foodstuffs contain.
In addition to dairy presentations, the "More" portion of the program includes an exhibit about the importance of agriculture to New Mexico's economy and shows how farmers produce food while caring for the land.
The tour concludes with a petting zoo where members of the New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranch will talk about llamas, pigs, sheep and other animals.
The event is co-sponsored by Southwest Dairy Farmers, Dairy Max, the New Mexico State Fair, and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. Creamland Dairy donated chocolate milk for this year's participants.
© 2013 New Mexico State University Board of Regents
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