Fourth graders from Tucumcari, Logan and House learned about agriculture Tuesday at a special program put on by the extension services of New Mexico and Texas, and by Mesalands Community College.
The program called “Kids ‘n’ Cows” came to Tucumcari and was housed in the MCC Ag Sciences building and corrals and it took 155 students broken up into small groups to a number of different stations where they learned about a variety of different subjects related to agriculture and specifically cows. “Well,” said the father of the program Alfred Gonzales, “a couple of the stations do deal directly with cows.”
Gonzales originally started the program over a decade ago in El Paso, Texas and since then it has moved around Texas and into New Mexico. “The premise,” said Gonzales, “is to let kids realize just where their food comes from.”
Gonzales said that even in communities like Tucumcari which many people consider a “rural” area, children often have no idea of the agricultural basis of their food. “It is not unusual to ask a child where milk comes from and have him answer, ‘the grocery,’” said Gonzales. “You’d think these kids should have an idea how food is produced, but they don’t really.”
To correct that limited point of view the “Kids ‘n’ Cows” program was set up. The fourth graders learned about milking cows, making cheese, the importance of beef as a food, basic animal husbandry, horsemanship and horseshoeing. Gonzales said he started the program 11 years ago and is amazed how it has taken off. He said that because of the different communities taking part as he travels from town to town, each program is slightly different. With Mesalands students stepping in to work with the elementary school students on horsemanship and horseshoeing and the local CowBelles’ group helping with the beef presentation the program was markedly different than the day before in Moriarty.
“I think the program went real well,” said Pete Walden Quay County Extension agent who along with 4-H agent Justin Bollinger was in charge of a general animal husbandry session. “The kids are really well behaved and they clearly are enjoying learning.” Tucumcari fourth grade teacher Misty Caton agreed wholeheartedly with Walden. “I think it’s a wonderful experience for our kids,” said Caton. “It’s not something they see everyday.”
Ann Parmer of House said while seeing the activities was a bit more common place for her students since most of them lived on ranches or farms around House, she still felt it was a solid learning exercise. “I think it was really a good experience for them,” said Parmer. “It really drives home the value of what they might see at home.
The program lasted from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and at each stop the instructors quizzed the young students as to what they had learned to reinforce what was taught at each stop.