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March 11, 2013   Email to Friend 

Melissa Martin
(334) 612-5448
March 11, 2013

Fourth-grade students from Boaz Intermediate School in Marshall County learned about poultry through hands-on activities at Ag Safety Day. The event, organized by Boaz High School's FFA chapter, was held at Cornutt Farms.

BOAZ, Ala., March 11, 2013 --- A few inches of rainfall didn't deter more than 300 fourth- and fifth-graders from participating in Ag Safety Day at Cornutt Farms in Marshall County today.

Organized by the Boaz High School FFA chapter, the event allowed students to learn about equipment and technology, land conservation, Marshall County agriculture and why it's important to respect farmers on the road.

"Our FFA chapter spent a lot of time planning this event, including giving up part of their weekend to make sure everything was all set for the very first group to come in the barn this morning," said Kevin Stewart, Boaz High School agriscience teacher. "It's a great program for the kids, and it's quite an undertaking for the FFA... but one that helps our students use what they've learned and get some on-farm experience. It's truly beneficial for all involved."

Stewart said while Ag Safety Day is technically an annual event, weather has resulted in cancellations the past two years. Fortunately, heavy rainfall wasn’t a hindrance this year, mostly due to the new venue.  

"We're glad to be able to have so many kids out here on our farm today, even with the rainy weather," said Rickey Cornutt, who opened his row crop and cattle farm to the event. "There aren't too many farmers in Boaz, and most of the students here today have no connection to a farm. It's important they come out and see these things first-hand, and they seem to have really enjoyed themselves."

Cornutt's daughter, Cara, serves as president of the Boaz High School FFA chapter and contributed to the event's success. After seeing the kids’ excitement, she said the hard work paid off.

"Planning, meeting and organizing everything has been a big job for our FFA, but I'm glad we did it," she said. "Just look around — kids are smiling, asking questions [and are] genuinely interested in what they're here to see. The stress was definitely worth it." 

While the Cornutts focused on farm safety and utilizing technology, two other demonstrations sought to help students and chaperons answer the age-old question of which came first — the chicken or the egg.

Marshall County Farmers Federation President Mike Carnes and his wife, Regina, who serves on the State Women's Leadership Committee, spoke with students about their poultry farm. In addition to pictures, the Carnes supplemented their presentation with dozens of eggs, which several students said they were excited to explore up-close. 

"I didn't know there were so many different kinds of eggs," said fourth-grader Alli Todd of Boaz Intermediate School. "I learned eggs with double yolks don't hatch and are really big, and I even held one. At Mr. [Charles] Music's table, I got to play with baby chicks. It's been a fun day!"

Charles Music, who owns Sunset Farms and raises chickens for Koch Foods, showed students what baby chicks look like and allowed each of them to hold one.

"It's important kids know that chickens start somewhere before they reach the KFC buckets," Music said. "This event is not only allowing kids to interact with farmers, but it's allowing them to see first-hand what eggs and chickens actually look like. It's never too early for them to learn where our food comes from, and who provides it."

Lynn Tony, a chaperon and parent of an FFA member, said the kids have looked forward to going to a farm and seeing the animals.

"Since we started talking about the field trip, the kids couldn't wait to get out here," said Tony. "Their teachers and I were glad to see them so excited about agriculture, but we were also glad to show them farming is about more than just animals — it's about crops and conservation, too."

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