By Rob Potter
GRAHAMSVILLE June 8, 2001 Sarah Riegal milked a cow for the first time Wednesday at the Grahamsville Fairgrounds.
And the experience made quite an impression on her.
It was squishy, Riegal said of squeezing the cows teat to fill a small cup with milk.
But Riegal, a third-grade student at Light and Life Christian School in Liberty, also said that milking the cow was fun. Indeed, Riegal and about 525 other youngsters at Cornell Cooperative Extensions 12th Annual Ag-stravaganza event discovered that learning about agriculture can be fun.
Those 500-plus students, along with about 100 teachers and parents, discovered or rediscovered depending on their own agricultural background the variety of ways agriculture affects their lives. Students from the Light and Life Christian School, St. Peters School in Liberty and fourth grade students from seven of the countys elementary schools (Eldred, Liberty, Livingston Manor, Sullivan West/Delaware Valley, SW/Jeffersonville-Youngsville, SW/Narrowsburg and Tri-Valley) made their way to 12 unique agriculture stations.
Those stations included Organically Speaking, where Cochecton Center farmer John Gorzynski explained how he and his family grow more than 100 different seasonal vegetables, herbs and small fruits on their 52-acre farm, and the Double E Alpaca Farm, where Edward Boyd and Jair Trujillo introduced the youngsters to two alpacas, Nuzzle and Rosie, and explained how alpaca wool is used for yarn and woven into luxury garments.
Other stations expanded the students knowledge of rabbits, chickens, horses, cows, honey bees and lambs. The Ag-stravaganza attendees also learned about the nutritional value of milk and other dairy products from the Sullivan County Dairy Court, and Cornell Cooperative Extension Conservation Technician Richard Ehrmann explained how Soil Is More Than Dirt.
And once again the event ran quite smoothly.
Ninety percent of the teachers have been here for many years, said CCE 4-H Extension Educator/School Program Coordinator Barbara McCausland. And many of the presenters have been here all 12 years, so they know what to do. Theres a lot of experience here today.
And one factor that can determine just how successful Ag-stravaganza is from year-to-year was in the organizers favor.
The weathers beautiful today, McCausland said. The last six years weve been here, we havent had rain.
Even if it had rained, the liquid sunshine might have only slightly affected the smiles on the kids faces as they observed the animals, tasted maple syrup and chewed small mozzarella cheese sticks.
When asked about what else she enjoyed about the day besides milking the cow, Riegal was quick to reply.
The maple syrup, she said. It tasted good.
Sullivan West/DV fourth grader Kristen Drobysh also had fun at the 2001 Ag-stravaganza.
My favorite part was when we went to see the cows, Drobysh said. I liked seeing the calves theyre cute. If you put your hand near their faces, they started to suck on your fingers.