Dairy farming program exposes kids to agriculture

Floyd fourth-grader Aracel Mendoza listens to Roosevelt County 4-H Agent Patrick Kircher talk about corn and its uses Thursday during the Southwest Dairy Farmer’s annual Kid, Kows and More program. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Marlena Hartz : CNJ staff writer

A group of fourth-grade students listened attentively Thursday as Kay Lindsey separated the layers of a giant, stuffed burger.

She traveled more than 180 miles, leaving her 65,000-acre ranch in Claunch, for Curry County’s Fairgrounds. Why? To share her rancher’s wisdom with 950 students from New Mexico to Texas at the Southwest Dairy Farmer’s annual Kid, Kows and More program.

“This is good brain food. It contains zinc, iron, and protein,” Lindsey said, freeing a layer of brown beef from flaps of lettuce and tomato for her captive audience.

“It takes a rancher two years to raise beef for a hamburger that it takes you two minutes to buy,” said Lindsey, who brought along props ranging from the giant hand-sewn burger to authentic horse-riding chaps.

“It’s important,” Lindsey said, “for boys and girls to know how valuable agriculture is — everything starts on a farm or ranch; even the clothes they wear.”

The Kids, Kows and More program began 12 years ago, with the intent of exposing students to agriculture.

Presentations vary from county to county; Curry County’s program ushered classes of children from station to station, where a new agriculture skill or product was highlighted. Les Owen, an event organizer and an Extension 4-H agent in Curry County, became interested in Kids, Kows and More at the program’s debut in El Paso.

“It provides urban kids with an idea of how an agricultural commodity gets from the farm to the store,” said Owen. “You get some interesting questions from kids from urban areas, some still think chocolate milk comes from a brown cow.”

The target audience seemed enchanted with their new knowledge. Emily Montoya, a 9-year-old student from Valencia Elementary School, bragged she now knows more about corn than her parents.

“Jello has corn in it. And it’s hard to make because it takes a long time,” Montoya said, as she leaned against the post of a fence.

For students such as Coby Carter, also of Valencia Elementary, matters of agriculture aren’t new. “I’ve always been a farmer,” said Carter, whose father grows wheat, corn and alfalfa. “My dad taught me a long time ago that you can make gum out of wheat,” said Carter, as he stuck his tongue out to reveal a piece of chewing gum. “But I also learned a lot of other stuff was made with wheat like gas and dog food.”