By Diane Glidewell
About 300 Butts County kindergarten students, and their teachers, got to experience life on the farm last week, thanks to the Butts County Farm Bureau, McIntosh State Bank, and other community sponsors. The 21st Annual Farm Day was held May 11 in Butts County, for all of the kindergarten students of Daughtry Elementary, Jackson Elementary, Stark Elementary, and the Mary Buttrill School.
The perimeter of the pecan grove behind McIntosh State Bank in Jackson was ringed with exhibits of farm animals, wildlife, plants, and outdoor equipment, while the interior of the grove held music, games, preparations for a deluxe hot dog lunch, and shade in which to sit down and enjoy it.
Wil Smith, of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, came with preserved examples of Georgia's wildlife, including a full-size bear skin. Robert Farris, of the Georgia Forestry Commission, brought some of the large equipment it uses in Georgia forests. Dr. Alan Burdette, of Jackson Veterinary Clinic, brought his large, white mare, Annie, to meet the children.
For the third year, children were able to see where milk really comes from thanks to a hands-on demonstration sponsored by Dairy Farm Families of Georgia.
Butts County resident, Stephanie Hardy, brought Wilbur the pig, Sarah and Isaac the miniature donkeys, and Freckles the Dominecker rooster, for the five- and six-year-olds to see and touch. Kelly Dirito and her son, Sam, shared rabbits, chickens, their Great Pyrenees dog, and examples of a variety of plants from Colliers Greenhouse with the kindergarten students.
The City of Jackson brought fire trucks and the Butts County Sheriff's Department brought police vehicles to teach the children about safety. Other sponsors included Central Georgia EMC, Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, and the Georgia Peanut Commission. The Chick-fil-A cow also came by to visit.
Charles Hoard, of the McIntosh State Bank branch in McDonough, was the disc jockey for the day and kept the tunes flowing across the spring air. Sheila Mason, with helpers including 4-H'ers Emily Barnes and Sarah Hicks, enjoyed leading the children and teachers in songs and active games.
"McIntosh employees enjoy volunteering to read to the kindergarten classes every week or two during the school year," said Mason. "It is a lot of fun when the children come here for Farm Day and recognize us."
Mary Lee Martin, vice president of the Butts County Farm Bureau, was present for her 21st Farm Day. She said that only one Farm Day has been rained out in all of those years. The Farm Bureau organizes the event and invites the educational exhibitors. McIntosh State Bank provides the space for the event, volunteers to help stage it, and a lunch of grilled hot dogs with condiments, chips, fruit cup, and cold juice for the attendees.
"We believe that as our community becomes more urban it is increasingly important for our young people to understand exactly where their food comes from," Martin and David Ridgeway, president of the Butts County Farm Bureau, said in a written statement.