She gained first-hand knowledge of what old-fashioned milking was like at a dairy display.
She even spied giant tractors and combines that towered over her – and learned about their six-figure price tags.
“I guess I’ve learned a little about all the hard work that farmers have to do and how much it costs them to do it,” said Trakas, one of hundreds of students who enjoyed a practical education Tuesday on opening day of the 2015 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo in Finch.
That was just the reaction Chad Brownlee and wife Susan, co-educational coordinators for the plowing match, had in mind when they volunteered to lead the education centre at the event. The three display tents, known collectively as the Hydro One Education Centre, feature 30 exhibits from a mechanical milking cow brought in by Dairy Farmers of Ontario to Ontario Pork Producers’ “Porkmobile.”
“Any time you can connect kids with their agricultural roots and make them more familiar with how food gets on the table it’s a good thing,” said Brownlee, a principal with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB). “I think it is important for them to know it’s not just as simple as buying it in their local grocery store.”
That lesson is a part of the Ontario curriculum as well, so a visit to the match becomes a fun way for students to learn what they need to know.
Apart from the appreciation of farmers’ work, Brownlee says the match may also give students an understanding of the monumental impact of agriculture on Canada’s economy – a multibillion dollar industry on which many Canadian jobs depend.
To teach that lesson, the education area featured a number of exhibitors including displays from: Rare Breeds Canada; Egg Farmers of Ontario; Ontario Apple Growers’ Association; the Seaway District High School Agriculture Specialist High Skills Major Program; Norwell Dairy Systems Ltd.; Ontario Early Years Centre; Chicken Farmers of Ontario; Grain Farmers of Ontario; Upper Canada Village; and Vanderlaand: The Barnyard Zoo.
One of the most popular displays in the education centre was the animal display by Vanderlaand: The Barnyard Zoo. The petting zoo featured goats, a pot-bellied pig, sheep and other friendly animals that delighted the students.
The Porkmobile is proving to be another major draw. The mobile display is a modified, windowed trailer featuring live animals housed in display areas so students can learn about the life cycle of pigs.
While UCDSB students enjoyed the displays, they participated in the match in other ways.
Students with North Dundas District High School and Tagwi Secondary School built 140 wooden display benches for the event, and students from Tagwi walked in the opening parade carrying the flags of the world.
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