Smithsburg High School junior Austin Grove, a member of the school’s FFA club, drove his tractor to school from his house in Leitersburg on Friday morning and spent the rest of the day showing livestock to youngsters as part of Farm Day at the school.
“It was a little bit chilly this morning, but it was fun driving down the open road,” the 17-year-old said.
“I’ve wanted to get this running (tractor) for years now for this, and I finally got the time to work on it.”
The event, run by FFA students, included high school students driving tractors to school and displaying farm life to students at Smithsburg Elementary School.
“It gets the younger kids out, and they get to learn about farming,” Smithsburg senior and FFA junior advisor Morgan Nicley said. “They can see the animals, and some of them they can even pet.”
Elementary school students got to race on stick horses, sit in a tractor and honk the horn, watch a movie about farming, make sheep out of cotton balls, and view livestock that included pigs, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and a bull.
“I like the rabbits because they jump,” Smithsburg Elementary School kindergartner Hollan Carter, 6, said. “I want to pet the baby chicks.”
Kindergartner Sam Reynolds, 6, was able to experience the farm and ride a tractor to school that morning with his older brother, Smithsburg FFA student Allen Reynolds.
“I liked watching the ducks,” Sam Reynolds said.
Smithsburg Elementary School kindergarten teacher Kendal Moss said that the event will help keep the youngsters interested in the topic of farming when they talk about it in class.
“They get an opportunity to look at real farm animals and be able to interact with them,” she said. “When they have good experience with farm animals, it piques their interest.”
About 250 students from the elementary school were scheduled to visit the high school for the event, Smithsburg High Ag Teacher and FFA advisor Lee Ruark said.
FFA alumni and school staff also assisted with the event along with Antietam Tractor, which loaned a tractor to the school.
“We do this every year for the elementary school students to promote ag awareness just to give a little insight of what agricultural involves, not just farming, but also where the food comes from,” he said. “Even though they may not live on a farm, agriculture is still an important part of their life, even though they may not realize it.”
The FFA members own the livestock, Ruark said.