Farm animals captivate 900 students at MTSU Agricultural Education Spring Fling

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The young students came to MTSU from all parts of Rutherford County: La Vergne, Rockvale, Lascassas, Smyrna and Murfreesboro.

Nearly 900 youngsters in all, from pre-kindergarten through second-graders, attended. They came for the second MTSU Agricultural Education Spring Fling April 14 in the Tennessee Livestock Center on Greenland Drive.

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Led by professor Alanna Vaught, her nearly 30-member agritourism class prepared for a project that is both fun and educational for the visiting students, most of who have grown up in the city and are not familiar with farming and agriculture.

"It went very well," said Vaught, whose crew of volunteers -- MTSU students, family friends and School of Agribusiness and Agriscience colleagues -- helped make it run smoothly.

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Eliza McQuaid, 7, a second-grader at Walter Hill School, liked the animals.

"My favorite was the horse," she said, "because it had big eyes and it was cute."

Two of McQuaid's takeaways from the event were that "animals give us food" and that "if we didn't have any food, we would die."

Audrey Breneman, 7, a first-grader at Thurman Francis Arts Academy in Smyrna, liked that she and the other children could play in the Barnyard Playground. There they found two straw mazes and other activities.

As for farming, Breneman learned that "some fruits grow on trees and some vegetables grow in the ground." She found the Little Acres area was fun because they could "pick some fruits and vegetables."

Other schools bringing children to the event included La Vergne Lake Elementary; Cedar Grove Elementary in Smyrna; Rockvale Elementary; Lascassas Elementary; and Blackman Elementary, Homer Pittard Campus School, McFadden School of Excellence and Middle Tennessee Christian School in Murfreesboro.

A group, which is part of the Theophany Homeschool Cooperative, also attended.

Andriana Lamb, an MTSU alumna who is retail development manager for the Rutherford Farmers Co-Op Murfreesboro store, told the youngsters "why the farmer comes to the co-op and the different jobs a farmer has."

Alumni including Wesley Foster and Daniel Prior returned as volunteers.

Foster, who lives in Woodbury, Tennessee, teaches agriculture at Smith County High School in Carthage, Tennessee. He brought five of his FFA students to help assist.

Three more FFA students came with teacher Mike Swafford of Cascade High School in Wartrace, Tennessee.

A 2014 graduate now an ordained minister, Prior returned to announce and assist with scheduling -- an area in which he helped Vaught in 2014.

"It was a blessing to come back and help," Prior said.

All of the teachers and schools left with educational materials -- crayons, coloring book, pencils and more.

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