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Episode 106: Getting to Know Goats, Farming and Having Fun During 7th Grade Agriculture Day

It was a hands-on educational experience that brought aspects of agriculture and having fun on the farm to students in the city.

On this episode of the Supercast, we take you to the annual 7th Grade Agriculture Day at JATC South where members of FFA helped teach middle school students about different professions in the ag industry as well as how food makes its way from farms to the dinner table. Two award winning goats also joined the ag day action, making a special guest appearance on the Supercast.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. It was a hands-on educational experience that brought aspects of agriculture and having fun on the farm to students in the city. On this episode of the Supercast, we take you to the Annual 7th Grade Agriculture Day at JATC South, where members of FFA helped teach middle school students about different professions in the agriculture industry, as well as how food makes its way from farms to the dinner table. Two award-winning goats also joined the ag day action, making a special guest appearance on the Supercast. Miranda from Riverton High School introduces us to Leonard and Penny.

Miranda:
My name is Miranda, and these are my goats. This one's name is Leonard, and then that's Penny and they're boer goats and they're also show goats. So I use them in like 4H and FFA competitions in livestock shows. I actually just showed a goat like this, his name was Sheldon, at the State Fair this past weekend. Something about these guys is that to use them in the show industry, you have to train them. So I use this rope halter to teach them how to walk, like you walk your dogs, I walk my goats. Then I also have a show halter that's a little fancier than this one, to use in the show ring with them. You also train them to set up or square up, which is where you put all four of their legs just directly underneath them. It just helps them to look their best. Then you do something called bracing, which helps them to flex their muscles because it is a market show. So you're looking for the best animal there or the best meat animal there.

Anthony Godfrey:
Which goat is the greatest of all time?

Miranda:
Probably this one right here.

Anthony Godfrey:
That goat is the goat.

Miranda:
Yes, she is the goat.

Anthony Godfrey:
I see that the tail is shaved and cut in a particular way. Is that part of the grooming for competition? 

Miranda:
Yes it is, and also their legs. We trim it just like at their hawk so then it's level to the ground. That's like the trend in the stock show industry. Then we actually fluff up their legs. We use a little blow dryer, like how we blow dry our hair, we blow their hair and we make it puffy and build it up. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Do any of you have goats at home? You have a golden retriever, but not a goat. Okay. They'd probably get along though. Did they eat crazy stuff like you think they would?

Miranda:
Maybe. These ones are on a special diet.

Anthony Godfrey:
Oh they're on a special diet, a special goat diet. Is it an oat goat diet or what do they eat?

Miranda:
It's called Show Rite. It's a little gray pellet that you feed them. You can just get it from IFA.

Anthony Godfrey:
It’s good for the coat. What is your biggest goat award?

Miranda:
Probably this belt buckle I have on right now. Her sister actually won it for me.

Anthony Godfrey:
Grand Champion Goat. Is that from 2021? 

Miranda:
Yes, it is.

Anthony Godfrey:
Well done. So you are the champion, my friend. Do they know their names?

Miranda:
They might not. Sometimes when you call to them they'll respond, but not really.

Anthony Godfrey:
Are they evil or do they just look that way?

Miranda:
No, they're actually really nice. I like goats more than sheep. Goats are much nicer.

Anthony Godfrey:
So sheep are more on the evil end.

Miranda:
Yes. Do you guys know what goats are used for and why we breed them?

Students answering:
Goat milk.
They cook them.
Whoa.
Aren’t goats a delicacy?
Have you had goat meat? It's pretty good. 

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here with Sonja Burton, the principal of the Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers South campus. Thank you for joining us. 

Sonja Burton:
Thank you. 

Anthony Godfrey:
We want to talk about 7th Grade Agriculture Days. Tell me a little bit about that.

Sonja Burton:
Well, it came about by CTE. Current Technical Education has advisory boards and we were gathered in an advisory board meeting. The industry professionals at the time, in that meeting, asked us what we needed and they wanted to tie some sort of event to a curriculum. So the perfect class was College and Career Awareness or CCA that our 7th graders take where they learn about different careers in all of our CTE areas. This one happens to be agriculture. This one's a little bit more difficult to get work based, learning experiences or speakers to come in. So we're bringing the students to the industry professionals. 

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of the other areas you cover in that class?

Sonja Burton:
Family and Consumer Science, Business and Marketing, Information Technology, Health Sciences, Skilled and Technical Sciences, and Tech and Engineering. 

Anthony Godfrey:
So 7th grade really is the perfect time to do that because they have so many class choices ahead of them in middle school and in high school and a lot of opportunities. Many students aren't aware of the broad range of options that are available to them. Agriculture days in particular is focused on an area that many kids don't have a lot of experience with,

Sonja Burton:
Right. And that's why we wanted to bring it to them because mostly students would think, ‘oh, agriculture is just farming’ and agriculture isn't just farming. It encompasses natural resources, food and farming, with food and fiber, fiber in particular, but also mining, landscape and horticulture, veterinary science, floriculture, so when you send flowers to someone. All of that is encompassed in agriculture.

Anthony Godfrey:
Many students don't understand where their food or clothing comes from. And agriculture days seems to be a great way to raise awareness, not just of careers, but really how the world works and how their needs are met.

Sonja Burton:
Yes, a lot of students, when you ask them, they say that their food, milk for example, comes from the store. They don't actually know. There was a dairy farmer outside speaking to them about all of their high tech machinery that they use to milk those cows. And they're milking them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on Christmas.

Anthony Godfrey:
Yes. The cows don't take a break. So really it connects students to the broader world around them. Even if they don't go into agriculture as a career, a better understanding of that is very valuable because just the way that we live and the way we rely on agriculture every day,

Sonja Burton:
It creates an awareness of your everyday life, which is exactly what CTE in all of our program areas do. It is real life experiences that you can use with your family and your friends, not just in school or in a career.

Anthony Godfrey:
There are even jobs within Jordan District that would be considered agriculture jobs.

Sonja Burton:
Of course! You have agricultural educators, who are also FFA advisers, but as you walk into a school, it's not only our teachers, but it is everything that takes place at each of our schools, especially our grounds and maintenance crews. They have to have a knowledge of landscape and horticulture in order to be able to do their jobs. We have the pleasure of having our Jordan District facilities and our grounds crews here to present to our 7th grade students.

Anthony Godfrey:
We can always use more help. That's great to be recruiting in 7th grade. What are some of the programs available in Jordan School District for a student who is interested in agriculture?

Sonja Burton:
At our comprehensive high schools, there are programs such as Animal Science. So we have the Animal Science pathway. We have Horticulture or the Plant Sciences pathway. Then as you move to the tech center, we have Veterinary Science at JATC North, and Landscape and Horticulture at JATC South.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's exciting that we have such a wide range of options available for students. If a parent wanted to find out more about what's available, how would they do that?

Sonja Burton:
They are welcome to contact their CTE coordinator at each of the comprehensive high schools, or they're welcome to contact JATC North and South.

Anthony Godfrey:
We had the chance to interview your daughter and her goats. Well, we interviewed the goats. They didn't really respond very well, but they were attentive. Tell me about what that's like as a family. You've done this for a long time.

Sonja Burton:
We have. My parents actually decided that was a good way to learn responsibility at a young age. So my dad did help us get into raising market lambs and goats. We still do it now. They raised market lambs and goats in Juab county and my children and my nieces participated in that family event.

Anthony Godfrey:
So market lambs and goats, as opposed to black market lambs and goats?

Sonja Burton:
These animals are show animals. So they will go to your livestock shows and fairs or exhibits around the state and around the country.

Anthony Godfrey:
Is it hard to say goodbye to those goats when it's time to send them to market?

Sonja Burton:
There have been many tears shed. Many, ‘Ok, just one more minute’ at the pen before we have to leave. Because not only do you name them, each of these animals have such a personality and you've spent hours with them, training them, so they are perfect when they get into that show ring. 

Anthony Godfrey:
When it is time for them to go, is it harder to say goodbye to some than to others?

Sonja Burton:
It is. Some you just wave and say, ‘see you later’, and others there are tears shed. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Sonya, do all goats go to heaven?

Sonja Burton:
No, I don't think so.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay, fair enough. You've heard it here folks, all goats do not go to heaven. So be a good goat out there. All right. Well, thank you very much for everything you're doing to improve students' awareness of the careers in agriculture, and also just how the world works around them.

Sonja Burton:
Thank you so much.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us. More fun on the farm and Ag Day when we come back.

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Anthony Godfrey:
Now let's listen in as Jordan School District maintenance employees talk about some of the equipment they use.

Maintenance worker #1:
Anybody have any ideas, what that is? How many of your parents fertilize the grass at your house with a little spreader thing? This is the same thing, but on steroids right here. With this we can haul about 8,000 pounds of fertilizer. What does fertilizer do for us? 

Student #1:
It kills the weeds in the grass.

Maintenance worker #1:
It can, it can, if it has that component with it. 

Student #2:
It grows the grass, it fertilizes the grass.

Maintenance worker #1:
Yes, Exactly. Can fertilizer be used on anything other than just grass? Yes. What? 

Students:
Flower beds.

Maintenance worker #1:
Yeah, flower beds, trees. Just about anything that comes up out of the ground, fertilizer will help it.

Maintenance worker #2:
So this is the aerator, and what it does is it digs up these little holes that you see in the grass, you know, every so often. It digs those holes, puts them in the ground, and it allows the grass and the soil to breathe kind of. And then it works hand in hand with the fertilizer, because when you do this, it allows the fertilizer to kind of get a little deeper in the soil and bring a little more nutrients to the grass and that makes it a little healthier.

Anthony Godfrey:
Introduce yourself to everyone.

Alisha Neil:
My name is Alisha Neil, and I'm the agriculture teacher at Mountain Ridge High School.

Anthony Godfrey:
And what does being the agriculture teacher at Mountain Ridge High School entail?

Alisha Neil:
So I am both the FFA advisor and then I teach the agriculture classes. So for me, that's Animal Science, Floriculture, Biology, Agriculture, and Equine Science.

Anthony Godfrey:
Floriculture. 

Alisha Neil:
Yes. 

Anthony Godfrey:
And do students learn how to raise and arrange flowers?

Alisha Neil:
So the floriculture is different than the floriculture in greenhouse class, which I've taught before. In floriculture we're focusing mostly on floral design, so we've done a couple of weddings in my class so far this year, and we have a couple more to do. So we get a lot of the hands-on experience in designing and arranging flowers.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's awesome. What are some of the other classes?

Alisha Neil:
Animal Science is all about animals and animal science. We focus mostly on livestock animals in Animal Science 1 and then we get into small and companion animals in Animal Science 2. We cover anatomy and physiology, as well as what it takes to raise those animals, and what it would take for example, to get beef from the farm to the plate. So we follow those animals all the way through.

Anthony Godfrey:
Lots of kids and lots of people generally,  have lost an understanding of how that happens and what all is involved. What value do you see in bringing students along and helping them understand that process?

Alisha Neil:
So I tell my kid this. We do a consumer products unit, and being a good consumer of animal products in general, and having a better understanding of what it takes to get those products to you, is really important for kids as they make informed decisions as voters. As they go out and learn to be consumers of their own products and make those choices, every time a kid or a person buys a product from the grocery store, they're essentially voting for how they want that product raised and handled with their dollar. And so that's an important thing for our students to understand and to be able to apply. So whether they grow up to be in the agriculture profession or not, understanding how to be a good consumer is important.

Anthony Godfrey:
Anybody who eats can be more intentional and informed about the choices they make.

Alisha Neil:
A hundred percent. Yeah, that's exactly it. Like I said, understanding labels, understanding the different ways our products are raised is really important. Even though we're in a suburban to urban setting, like you said, every person that eats can make better informed choices, if they understand the background of where those products come from.

Anthony Godfrey:
You mentioned, companion animals, would I normally call that a pet?

Alisha Neil:
Yes, that would be a pet.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about companion animal versus pet.

Alisha Neil:
So a companion animal as registered is what we would consider a pet. In the animal industry, we call them companion animals, but that could be everything now from a Chinchilla to a dog or cat, even horses. I have kids that have many horses that go do therapy with them. So there's a broad spectrum of what we consider companion animals now. But we also talk about exotics and zoology stuff in there as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
So Ag courses can help students go into agriculture and be prepared for that, but also just better understand animals in their lives. 

Alisha Neil:
Correct. So agriculture really affects all of us. Every time you put on a piece of clothing that has cotton in it, to wearing leather shoes, to eating three times a day, all of that is influenced by agriculture. I do have a lot of kids that are in the vet science line of things, but I also have kids that are just there because they're interested in animals and want to learn a little bit more. And it really does, it affects all of us. There's things that you don't think about. Everything from your hair gel and mascara down to the air filters in our car have animal products in them. So things we need to learn about.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about FFA.

Alisha Neil:
So FFA is a passion of mine and always has been. I had a really excellent ag teacher who's now the principal here at JATC South. FFA is really a life changing student leadership organization. We have a fairly decent chapter at Mountain Ridge and we're growing. Last year with the pandemic things kind of got a little off track, but we're back on now. We have competitions for students to be in, but really first and foremost, it's a student leadership organization where kids learn hands-on leadership skills. My student officers make all the decisions for our chapter, our school. So they decide what socials we have, what competitions we're in, what things run that way. They run the whole program, and my job is just to be there for the advisor role.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me the thinking behind having students teaching students at this event.

Alisha Neil:
One of my favorite things about this particular 7th Grade Ag Day, we've been doing it for quite a number of years, but it gives my kids the first hand opportunity to expand their knowledge. Kids always learn better when they're teaching. The person doing the talking is usually the one doing the most learning. So they get that added benefit of being able to tell what they know. They also kind of experience what it's like to be a teacher, and they're usually nicer to me after this day. They're a little bit grateful. They're like, ‘this is exhausting. How do you do this all the time?’ By teaching, they kind of round out their knowledge and they can see where they have gaps. It's also really valuable to my students because as they apply for FFA awards, my kids have to have a hundred service hours, and so this goes to count towards those service hours and can help them. The degree application they have to do is approved by the state of Utah and they they really like this on their applications. This shows up really nice for them.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you don't have to be a future farmer of America to be in FFA?

Alisha Neil:
No. So Future Farmers of America, the name actually changed in 1988 and they dropped the future farmers part of it, but kept FFA because of all the tradition and history we have associated with it. But future farmer really should be future biologist, future engineer, future wildlife biologist, future soil tech.

Anthony Godfrey:
Future informed consumer. 

Alisha Neil:
Exactly, exactly. Everyone is affected by agriculture, whether directly or indirectly and agriculture is still our nation's largest employer. So whether it's in the field, which there's not a ton of actual farmers anymore as we've condensed, but agriculture still employs more people than any other industry.

Anthony Godfrey:
Thank you very much. It's great talking with you and thank you for all the efforts that you put into making an event like this possible. I'm sure it's the type of exposure that many students haven't experienced. 

Alisha Neil:
It's really fun. And the best part is the kids that do it here in 7th grade, a lot of the times, by the time they get to high school, they remember it and they come and seek our programs out. So it works really well all the way around.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's great. Thanks again. 

Thank you for joining us for another episode of the Supercast. Remember education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see out there.

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