Horses, pigs and goats are common place along the country roads winding through Bulloch County; but catching a glimpse of the farm animals frolicking in a park in Downtown Statesboro is anything but ordinary.
However odd, the scene is exactly what visitors to Statesboro’s Honey Bowen Building/Memorial Park witnessed Friday, when The Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Committee hosted a first ever “Farm Day.”
A joint effort between the Agribusiness Committee and Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department, the inaugural event welcomed approximately 100 Pre-K through 5th grade students – participating in the Parks Department’s annual Summer Day Camp – to learn about agriculture in the county they call home.
“We are trying to introduce agriculture into the kids’ lives,” said Katie Page, of Farmers and Merchants Bank, who worked to establish and manage the event. “[Agriculture] is a really big part of our economy in Bulloch County and we want to show the kids how important it is, and how fun it can be.”
“Our number one goal in the ‘ag-community’ is to bring awareness of agriculture, and its importance, to the community,” she said.
The committee has deemed Statesboro’s youngest citizens to be most needing of a reminder about agriculture’s importance, as they will ultimately determine the business’ fate.
“We feel one of the big reasons for agriculture’s decline is kids’ education about it dwindling,” said Andrea Whitfield, of AgSouth Farm Credit. “We feel like introducing agriculture to kids will help sustain agricultural practices in Bulloch County. We feel like it is important to keep it on the kids’ minds.”
Friday, children were presented with a broad range of farming experiences. Campers handled an assortment of animals – including rabbits, chickens, sheep and a herding dog – learned about farm equipment, worked hands-on with various crops and even tasted the fruits of local farmers’ labor.
Split into groups, the campers ventured to stations where they partook in various activities; one location allowed for a brief moment behind the wheel of a tractor, another provided the chance to feed and come face-to-face with a horse.
“We have a petting zoo, tractor and different farming products,” said Page. “The kids are learning about tractors, farm safety and various aspects of farming. They are also learning about cotton and other crops grown throughout the county.”
Students watched a short film about farming’s economic impact, planted their own crops in small, soil-filled cups and enjoyed coloring and face-painting activities.
“I think the kids are having a great time and learning all kinds of stuff,” said Page.
Volunteers with the Parks Department and members of Southeast Bulloch High School’s chapter of Future Farmers of America assisted in facilitating the event.
According to Page and Whitfield, “Farm Day” is hoped to grow into an annual celebration that reaches a greater number of students.
Ideally, the Agribusiness Committee would like to partner with Bulloch County Schools to set aside one or two days each year for the event, said Page.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at 912-489-9454