GRIGGSVILLE, Ill. — Griggsville-Perry first grader Sadie Buss has her future all figured out.
She plans to farm, and she wants to raise pigs and cows.
Sadie and classmate Aubrey Kirgan got some hands-on experience recently feeding a marshmallow to Petunia the pig.
“She got me dirty,” Sadie said, giggling, after watching the pig enjoy the treat.
Petunia and alpacas named Sleven, Sweetness and Pearl, along with other livestock, helped Griggsville-Perry pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade students learn more about agriculture at Ag Education Day last month at the Western Illinois Fairgrounds and Griggsville American Legion.
The Pike-Scott Ag in the Classroom program, with help from the Griggsville-Perry FFA, sponsored the event focused on beekeeping and pollination, livestock education and farm safety.
Rachel Smith, ag literacy coordinator with the Pike-Scott Farm Bureau, said, “The goal for today is to educate our youth a little bit about ag in a way they’re not going to see every day. This year is just Griggsville-Perry, but if it goes well, I’m going to be planning something bigger but also along the same lines with multiple schools.”
Students could compare antique tractors with a model used today and look at draft horses compared to the horsepower of current equipment.
First graders Savannah Shriver and Mason Lipcaman got their first-ever look at alpacas thanks to Carolyn Gurski, of Chickadee Hill Alpacas, a fiber mill and farm in Rushville.
“They’re different from the horses, cows, pigs, sheep and goats that most people have,” said Gurski, who has 28 alpacas. Students “learn a little something about alpacas, where they came from, how we take care of them, feel their fleece and see the end products made out of their fiber.”
Jeremy Thomas used a demonstration hive to stress the importance of bees to pollination and food production.
“Everybody thinks bees will sting you or are bad. It’s just to show them bees are good. We need bees for a lot of the food production,” said Thomas, who started beekeeping more than six years ago with two hives and now has 12 hives to produce honey and wax products, including candles and lotions.
Griggsville-Perry FFA member Lane Spencer, a senior on hand to help with the event, hoped the younger students took home a message about the work involved in putting food on the table.
In small communities like Griggsville, agriculture is the backbone of the community, and “it creates a lot of jobs in the area,” FFA member Matthew Myers said. “I doubt many of them know how wide the ag field is.”