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Students demonstrate knowledge at HVRHS Ag Ed Open House


FALLS VILLAGE – Kara Franks of Kent loves to bring her horse to school and she took the opportunity again May 15 at the Agricultural Science and Technology Open House at Housatonic Valley Regional High School (HVRHS).

In front of the barn, Laren Sorrell, left, holds Brownie, a goat, as Taylor Green of Kent reaches to pet him during the Ag Ed Open House May 15 at HVRHS. Next to them are Taylor Christen of Kent and Allana Tatro. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

Franks shared her enjoyment of working with “Elvis,” who was happily munching on hay next to the trailer in the oval in front of the high school. The horse is owned by her cousin but she rides him regularly at Clear Farm Equine in Wingdale, NY. She described the different items of tack that are used by western riders along with the care of it.

“I ride both Western and English,” she explained to one judge. “Western tack is a lot flashier.” She went through all the steps of grooming a horse before a ride and afterwards.

With her horse Elvis, Senior Kara Franks of Kent talks about her western tack at the Open House May 15 with Jenn Duncan, who is Kent’s representative to the Region 1 Board of Education and chairman of the Kent Board of Education. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

Franks, a senior, is also the president of the school’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter. She was one of several students from Kent who were presenting at the event.

From the parking lot packed with farm equipment to baby goats and sheep being held and petted in the barn, students shared their knowledge and skills acquired this year during the open house.

A total of 104 students participated in the event with 132 presentations or exhibits on a variety of topics. Each student enrolled in an agricultural science and technology course was required to create a display board and make a 15-minute presentation summarizing their chosen topic related to their course.

Franks said she would have to make her presentation to a minimum of three judges, who included FFA alumni, community members, former FFA graduates, parents, as well as HVRHS teachers and staff. However, there were many parents and relatives of students who were also attending and asking lots of questions of the students. The judges’ scores are averaged and entered as a course grade, explained Danielle Melino, one of the Agricultural Education instructors. There were a total of 91 people serving as judges.

“The purpose of our Ag Ed Open House is to allow our students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they obtain from the agricultural education classes that they take. Some students demonstrate knowledge that they obtain through their SAE projects (supervised agriculture education) that they complete outside of school,” Melino said. “Our goal is to educate the community about a wide range of agricultural science topics. Throughout this project, students develop their communication, problem solving, and self-advocacy skills. “

Senior Taylor Christen of Kent held one of the kids, baby goats, in her arms next to the barn. Visitors couldn’t resist petting the cute youngster, named Diesel, who is a Nigerian Dwarf breed and was only 2 months and 1 day old, she explained. Christen is the historian officer for the FFA chapter.

Senior Taylor Christen of Kent holds Dielsel a Nigerian dwarf kid goat as Allana Tatro, right, looks on during the Ag Ed Open House May 15 at HVRHS. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

Inside the barn, Taylor Green of Kent, who is a sophomore, was showing her Goat Housing display board and talking to visitors. She got involved with the agricultural science education at the school because she wasn’t particularly athletic.

“It gave me a real sense of belonging,” Green said. She has really enjoyed the activities and experiences and said it has been a lot of fun for her.  “We toured all the little kids today.”

Green’s display on goat housing was hands-on education because she has goats at home. Her SAE project is for her Veterinary Science course. She has found that not all goats will eat everything.

“They are picky eaters. They don’t like watermelon,” Green said.

The open house activities were also held during the school day on May 15 and 16.

“Over the course of two school days, our students gave guided tours to 511 local daycare and elementary-aged students in the region,” explained Melino.  “The younger students learned about all the different areas of our program, visited with the barn animals, enjoyed a hay ride, and a snack (Cabot cheese, veggies, and a milkshake).”

Food was one the popular areas in the classrooms and the chocolate and vanilla milkshakes disappeared very quickly during the Open House. There were also samples of cookies, jam making, the chemistry of candy and many other food-related topics. There were also many different machines on display, from haul truck operation to backhoe operation, a skid steer loader and many more.

Students from Housatonic Valley Regional High School rode their horses across the oval in front of the school during the Agricultural Education Open House May 15. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington
Lynn Worthington
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