Clark County elementary students take part in 4-H Agricultural Day

Published 10:00 am Saturday, April 15, 2023

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the distinctive sights and smells of farmland at Gilkison Farm filled the air.

Students from Clark County Public Schools certainly welcomed it.

Approximately 800 third and fourth-grade students from Clark County schools, including Conkwright, Strode Station, Justice, and Shearer Elementary Schools, visited the Calloway White Road land and learned more about life on the farm.

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It took place as part of a 4-H Extension Event called Agricultural Day.

“We decided to bring it back this year, and we included third and fourth [grade] to try to catch up the grades,” said Aubrey Lawson, a 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent. “The purpose of this trip is to expose kids to agriculture. We want them to understand what that means and gain more knowledge on how it impacts our community and other jobs.”

Although Gilkison Farm has returned to host the event this year as they’ve done on several other occasions, it had temporarily suspended the event due to COVID-19 and other concerns.

Students were informed in more ways than one.

Sixteen stations were present: horses, farm equipment, corn, soybeans, food preservation, beef, swine, drone, sheep, goats, poultry, farm chores, bees, horticulture and two dairy stations.

Students received an opportunity to ride on a tractor ride before arriving at the different stations.

At each, they were given a 15-minute presentation to understand better what a farmer does and has to be mindful of.

In many cases, hands-on learning opportunities were available.

For example, while students could hold baby chickens and see what it was like to sit inside different equipment, such as excavators and combine harvesters, they competed in two teams to see who could complete farm chores quickly.

These chores included digging dirt into one bucket, carrying water from two other buckets, and rolling up a hose.

At several locations, students gathered details about different animals.

As he engaged students with questions, Troy Varner – a Winchester resident and beekeeper of 45 years – explained the importance and interesting facts of pollination.

“You wouldn’t have cotton if we didn’t have bees or pollinators,” Varner said. “The only way we can make almonds is from honeybees. Two-thirds of all the bees in the United States every single year actually will be shipped to California to pollinate the almonds.”

The event also featured many volunteers willing to provide education.

Volunteering organizations included Southland Dairy Farmers, the Kentucky Beef Council, Storm Run Farm, the University of Kentucky Equine Department, Kentucky Soybean Association, Kentucky Corn Growers Association, Berea College Farm, Meade Tractor, Clark County 4-H Teen Council, Kentucky 4-H Foundation, Winchester Farms Dairy, and the Clark County Extension Office.

Matthew Hamilton, a University of Kentucky Sheep Unit Manager with the College of Agriculture, looked forward to helping students experiment.

“I brought a set of shears [and] a set of hoof trimmers [to] kind of compare that to how they get their hair cut [and] trim their fingernails,” Hamilton said. “There’s a lot of stuff out there about agriculture that is not positive, but we want them to see we care for these animals just as we do our own kids.”

Brennan Gilkison, the owner of Gilkison Farms, says he’s happy to host again.

“I just like seeing them learn about what we do,” he said. “That’s one reason my wife and I keep doing it is because we hear stories years [later]. That’s what we want we want them to remember it.”