Baby chicks steal the show at MTSU Ag Education Spring Fling for elementary students

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Zoe Southerland, 8, a second-grader at Eagleville School, enjoys holding a baby chick Tuesday, April 16, during the fifth annual MTSU Ag Education Spring Fling in the Tennessee Livestock Center. Nearly 800 elementary school children learned about farm life during the two-hour field trip. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The new chicken exhibit area inside the MTSU Tennessee Livestock Center was a huge hit with the elementary school youngsters.

You could call it Chicken Row on one side of the main arena. From incubation to newly hatched to little chicks to grown fowl, the full life cycle of the farm animal was on display Tuesday (April 16) at the MTSU Ag Education Spring Fling.

Nearly 900 children experienced the fifth annual agricultural field trip where youngsters like Leah Leavy of Murfreesboro, who have never been to a farm, but can experience it under one roof.

Children from area elementary schools in Kittrell, Lascassas, Eagleville, La Vergne Lake, Campus School, Middle Tennessee Christian, Dibrell (Warren County) and Auburn (Auburntown) participated this year.

They were joined by teachers, parents and about 80 combined MTSU agritourism class members and agriculture students from MTSU and Smith and Cannon county high schools, who kept things hopping in the livestock center.

Leavy, 6, a first-grader at Lascassas Elementary, said the event "was a lot of fun." When asked what was the best part, she replied, "everything." But the baby chicks, as attested by her father, Keith Leavy, were the most fun. "She loves the chicks," he said before saying to her, "Come on, Little Bit" as they needed to catch up with her classmates heading to another area.

Tractors, bees and honey, the "Little Acres" area that featured milking a replica of a cow, MTSU Creamery chocolate milk and a popular new corn pool (thousands of kernels of corn in three kiddie pools) area in the Barnyard Playground were among the numerous stops along the way.

They could also watch "Cracker Jack," a beef cow, rest on sawdust or munch on straw. And "Gus," an 8-year-old horse, received lots of love and attention.

In the "Little Acres" area, where children could pick fruits, vegetables and other items, one youngster said he picked "bananas," when there were pears, apples and eggs, but no bananas.

Vaught's agritourism class also presents a special Christmas season event for children in early December. To learn more about agritourism and the School of Agriculture, call 615-898-2523.

MTSU has more than 300 combined undergraduate and graduate programs.

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