MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 30, 2013

Ben Franklin academy opens campus to animals for Ag Day

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Jason Berryhill and his brothers felt different sensations when they petted a rabbit for the first time Friday.

“Really soft,” the Ben Franklin Science Academy fourth-grader said.

“Like cotton,” said Jordan Ray, a BFSA fifth-grader. “Cotton candy.”

BFSA students experienced all sorts of things when they petted rabbits, smelled pigs, roped cattle dummies and rode hay bales during Ag Day on Friday. The school’s large campus in far western Muskogee became a farm.

BFSA kindergarten teacher Valerie Ragsdale coordinated the event, which is in its third year.

“It’s important for students to understand the role of farmers, ranchers and producers in the community,” she said. “One farmer can feed 110 people. The kids need to know where their food comes from and appreciate the people who work with agriculture.”

Agriculture students from Connors State College — along with the CSC mascot, Connor — shared their expertise and some of their animals with the students. Lyndsey Sullivan, CSC’s director of college and community relations, said CSC students brought a ewe with babies, market lambs, a bull and three hogs. They also brought a roping dummy to let the kids test their roping skills.

Ag Day also featured members of Muskogee High School FFA and several private farmers and producers, Ragsdale said.

Clarence Threats of Summit, a member of Oklahoma Farmers Ranchers Association, said, “We got a chance to meet with the kids and a chance to answer their questions.”

Some BFSA students got to share their own expertise. Jade Stevenson, an eighth-grader, brought rabbits of various sizes. She said she won first-place awards with an 8-pound harlequin rabbit and a 3-pound Polish rabbit.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.