What do you think of when you think of 4-H? Animals? Agriculture? Well, many still do, and on Oct.18, over 500 students got a real education in Animals, Agriculture, and Natural Resources during the Young Farmers Day at Appomattox Elementary School. This event was organized by the Appomattox Extension Office and led by 4-H Agent Bonnie Tillotson.  

There were 11 different stations for the youth to rotate through, which included: Sheep; Dairy Cows; Edible Soil; Grow a Pizza; Donkey; Crops; Pig; Butter Making; ATV/UTV Safety; Department of Forestry; and Poultry.

The students learned about: the care of and products from sheep and dairy cows (plus got to see and adorable two-day old calf!); soil horizons; the many crops it takes to make a pizza; care of a donkey, all the different crops that can be grown in our area; the importance of wearing a helmet and safely operating an ATV/UTV; fighting forest fires and the tools and equipment needed, along with the different careers in forestry; care of chicks and chickens; how to make butter (and got to sample some); care of pigs and all the products we get from them. 

This event could not have taken place without the cooperative effort of numerous individuals and agencies including: Hannah Tillotson with the Robert E. Lee Soil and Water Conservation District; Rick and BJ Butler, and Chad Wisecarver, with the Virginia Department of Forestry; Ann Evans with the NRCS; Scott Cabaniss with the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park; Appomattox Master Gardeners: Jody Purches, Pat Brownell, Donna Tolley, Debbie Gagon and Blanche Jackson; Bruce Jones and Susan Prillaman with Virginia Cooperative Extension; Brianna and Kaylynn Moore with Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue; Ashley Knight, Susan Jones, and Scarlet Knight with Stratton’s Dairy; Angela, Taylor, and Richard Prince; Julie Poole; and Carol DePetro. Along with help from Rebecca Bruce for sharing her hen and chicks with us, and from Tractor Supply for lending us everything to keep them safe and warm!

So many children these days have no idea where their food comes from, let alone how important agriculture really is. Agriculture is big business in Virginia! According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry. It has an economic impact of $70 billion annually and provides more than 334,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. The industries of agriculture and forestry together have a total economic impact of over $91 billion and provide more than 442,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Every job in agriculture and forestry supports 1.7 jobs elsewhere in Virginia’s economy.   

Thus, we need to work hard to nurture our next “crop” of agricultural and natural resource professionals and keep Virginia growing!

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