The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Animals greet students at annual Agricultural Day


Agriculture Day gives students unique experiences

Amanda Kurukulasuriya, Bailey Stover

Despite temperatures reaching 90 degrees, hundreds of students spent their alternating unassigned times and lunch periods outside taking advantage of the annual Future Farmers of America (FFA) hosted Agriculture Day (Ag Day) yesterday.
This annual event offered a variety of sights and activities, including a tractor costing $450,000 and a game where kids could try to lasso a fake bull. The animals at Ag Day ranged from alpaca and cows to insects and taxidermy.
Designed as an interactive experience, students petted animals while FFA members educated and assisted in activities such as cow milking.
“All these animals are owned by the students, so these are projects that students have themselves,” said Mike Kilfoil, an instructor at the Columbia Area Career Center and RBHS graduate.  “So, it’s kind of a chance for them to show off their project.”
Not only is this a unique experience for many members of the student body, Kilfoil said it is also a day of pride for the students in the agriculture classes to present their hard work to the school.
“I like seeing my students,” he said. “I can see that they’re proud of what they’ve done.  It’s a showcase day for them. The other thing I like is seeing students that come out here and milk a cow for the very first time or understand that there are cows that are for milking and cows that are for beef, so other students with no contact kind of learn things and go, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that.’”
This year marks the fifth year Kilfoil has been a teacher at the Columbia Area Career Center, but he says this event predates his time. He first got involved with the FFA when he was in high school here.
“From a young age… the friends that I had, their parents had farms,” he said, “so I’d just hang out with them and I just thought, ‘This is a cool world.’”
Kilfoil said now, years later, he sees the FFA experience in a slightly different way.
“[Other students] here are planning on being producers,” he said. “They’re gonna raise sheep, raise cattle, raise crops, they’re gonna be veterinarians, they’re gonna be plant scientist.  There are a lot of careers that are associated with agriculture, not necessarily just farming.”

Alpacas Debut at AG Day

Isaac Parrish, Ethan Hayes

Spit. Fur. Stink.
These are words typically associated when one thinks of alpacas. Students running AG day, however, hope to change the perspectives of their peers on various animals, alpacas being one of many.
During AG day the alpacas were kept in a metal fence enclosure where students and staff could observe, pet and even feed them (although the grass seemed to satisfy the animals plenty). The alpacas greeted students and staff with gritty, long-toothed smiles that at first glance were icebreakers to the unsettling fear and worry some students and staff appeared have about them. Students such as Isaac Funderburk, were genuinely surprised as to how well his interaction with the alpacas went.
“They’re surprisingly soft,” he said. “I thought they’d be more aggressive, since they’re raised in captivity.”
Funderburk wasn’t the only one surprised at the alpacas’ calm posture; many students throughout the AG fair, senior FFA member Taylor Kemp said. He noted their frowns of fear turned into smiles of fondness for the alpacas’ soft white and brown fur. Kemp likes that the alpacas are at the AG day festival because it allows people to see them in the same way they might a pet dog or cat.
“You have to clip their teeth and toes because they don’t stop growing,” Kemp said.
Kemp goes so far as to call the alpacas her “pets” as she loves her alpacas the same as any dog she could ever own. Kemp also hopes that people during the day learn what alpacas actually look like.
She made the differences between alpacas and llamas clear to the people she talked to during AG day. For instance, alpacas have flat ears while llamas have more curved or as kemp says, “banana boat ears.” A common question for Kemp was the old wive’s tale that alpacas bite and spit. But Kemp will tell say it’s actually the llamas that are more prone to biting and spitting. Not to say that alpacas don’t spit, (because they do), but when an Alpaca spits it’s more of a mist while a llama will spit mucus.
“People see an Alpaca and say that it’s a llama,” Kemp said. “Llamas are aggressive and less people-friendly. Farmers use llamas to protect alpacas. Llamas are usually much taller and will fight off coyotes and wolves to defend the alpacas.
Alpacas are also more pack oriented and don’t like to be alone.
“You can’t just have one Alpaca,” she said.

Kids meeting kids

Billy Beaty, Annalisa Geger, Georgia Godier

The grassy area outside of the studies wing was transformed into  Ag Day.
Various animals such as charming show horses, enormous milking cows, crawling insects and eye-catching alpacas were whisked in front of the Rock Bridge bus drop off; however, the animals that ended up stealing most of the limelight turned out to be the frisky baby goats as they ate up the crowd’s attention throughout the majority of the day.
Sophomore Evan Deihls, who has been on the FFA program since freshman year, looked on as his goats captured the awe of the students when they walked by on the toasty September afternoon. Diehls brought one bulky six-year-old Boer Goat along with three four- and five-month-old giddy kids, that were stretching out and playing on the grass.
“They’re meat goats,” Deihls said. “I mean, they can be show goats, but these ones are strictly for meat production. So when they reach around 60-70 lbs, we’ll have them butchered.”
Even though the future for these little animals is not the brightest, they enjoyed the present as they soaked up the love of the students. Junior Jillian Barnett was one such fan.

“They look well-fed, well-taken care of and really cute,” she said.

Ag Day or Pet Day?

Anna Kirby, Samantha Mackley

Students angled their phones, trying to take pictures with friends as  they flocked around caged animals containing milking cows, chickens, horses, alpacas abd bugs, among others.
Then there was Duke.
At first glance, Duke is just a large dog, lucky enough to spend the day getting petted by the many students on the edge of the Ag Day set up. Even when Duke was put in his cage in the shade, in order to get away from the heat of the sun, students made the effort to stretch through the metal crate just to graze his fur.
Duke is not a household pet. He is a livestock dog, meant to protect the chickens of the Dothage family farm, senior Sydney Dothage, the owner of Duke, said. At almost a year old, Duke has many jobs. Most of these jobs include keeping chickens from wandering off and protecting them from any intruding animal.
“The dog was very fluffy and cute,” sophomore Sydney Klimeck said. “It somewhat fit in, but it’s not really a traditional farm animal.”
Klimeck was not the only student with this observation. Senior Jackson Wesley said it was odd to see a dog at Ag Day.
“The dog kinda throws you for a loop” he said. “You see all of the farm animals and then it’s just like, ‘Hey, there’s a normal dog.”
When both of these Rock Bridge students found out what Duke does every day, his presence made much more sense to them.

Horses offer calm despite high temperatures

Edwin Fonseca-Perez, Courtney Bach
With it being almost 100 degrees in the middle of a Thursday in September, it was no wonder that Ringer, one of the show horses at the Agriculture Day presentation, had to take some time in the shade. Meanwhile, the other horse and pony sat in the middle of the event.
The time between lunch shifts was practically empty excluding the volunteers and students working the event, including freshman Elissa Koch.
Koch said about 150 to 200 people visiting walked out to see the animals. One of the more frequently visited was the horses. It was easy to realize that the horses were a fairly popular sight after witnessing people’s reactions.
“They’re such strong, beautiful animals,” Jessica Mobely, a horse-loving freshman, said. “And they’re so freaking cute.”
Students and teachers came and went. Some taking their time petting and talking with the horse while others were completely entranced as they simply watched them. One junior, Abby, pointed out that it “can’t be comfortable to be pet when it’s this hot.”
The overlaying trend seemed to be the calm that came over people when they were around the horses. Latin teacher Brianna Dyer described the horses as “a friendly and passive animal,” as they would allow her to pet them.

Live animals not the only attention grabber at Ag Day

George Frey,  Saly Seye

With Rock Bridge High School’s Agricultural Day yesterday, students were able to see animals of all kinds. From horses to Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches, the focus was understandably things like wriggling insects, milking cows and a vocal rooster.
But tucked away among the other exhibits was a hidden gem of deceased animals sprawled on the taxidermy booths and pinned neatly into shiny glass cases.
Sitting on a velvety blue booth was the green-and-white leathery skin of a taxidermied alligator, the sun dancing off its polished scales. With its off-white claws severed and in a pile beside it, this pelt did not have the menacing quality of a live alligator but was intriguing nonetheless.
Aware of its enticing nature, Lincoln University junior William Doggeeb engaged visitors.
“Did the alligator draw your attention? Well, that’s why we bring it.”
While its waxy green eyes glared with piercing intensity, Doggeeb explained the process of reviving deceased animals: the animal is defleshed, its skin is washed and its bone structure is recreated with a cast. The seemingly simple process requires precision and as a result, can take multiple days to execute. While the majority of RBHS students ran their hands through the fur of a once-alive raccoon or took pictures with a majestic deer stoically mounted on wood, not all were satisfied with the practice.
“It’s not good, but it’s pretty,” freshman Sophia Hutchinson said.
Photography and art teacher Chris Flinchpaugh said the booth made him wonder about its purpose.
“I’m not a big fan of it,” he said. “It just seems a little disrespectful to the animal.”
While the alligator lay under the tent, the shells of its large eyes continuingly staring, another student displayed hundreds of dead insects and arachnids pinned inside glass cases. Ranging from yellow jackets with thin black wings to soft green butterflies, these insects were nothing short of mesmerising.
“First, you catch the insect with a net,” said Lincoln Environmental Science student Austin Dudenhoeffer. “You then put it in a Ziploc bag and place it in a freezer for a couple weeks. After that they’ll go into hibernation, and two weeks later they will be dead. After that, you wrap them up in wet paper towels and let them absorb moisture so you can pin them in a position you want them to stay in, and then you let them dry again for another two weeks.”
With a station of their own, the FFA had several mammals on display, two of which were a possum and a deer. Most were skinned and stuffed post-mortem; however, some furs were left alone, looking limp as a result.
For agriculture students such as Mizzou attendee Hannah Hemmelgarn, events like Agricultural Day are crucial for motivating high schoolers to study the world around them.
“I think it’s really important to reach the high school level,” she said. “These kids that are just starting to get interested and maybe figuring out what they want to do as a career. [S]o many of the [agriculture] students do go on to pursue [agriculture] related careers.”

Could cockroaches be people, too?

Will Cover and Jared Geyer

In Creepshow, by Stephen King, Upson Pratt, a ruthless old businessman, lays motionless on his bed in a dull gray bathrobe and wiry silver hair accompanying the futuristic sterile white prevalent in bad 80s movies.
His body starts to quiver, and the skin on his head begins to bulge until a single stream of blood runs down his temple. Suddenly, a cockroach bursts out of his forehead. Hundreds of cockroaches begin to stream out of his mouth until the whole room, and Pratt’s lifeless body, are covered with cockroaches.
A common disdain for cockroaches felt throughout the world has existed for centuries, with author Pliny the Elder of Rome writing “that the ‘disgusting’ pests be summarily squished.”
But the fear of cockroaches is unfounded, Austen Dudenhoeffer of Lincoln University explained.
“[Hissing cockroaches] don’t bite or anything,” he said. “They are the safest thing in the lab. These are actually very clean because the FDA said there’s no diseases that they carry, no bacteria, so you can actually eat them raw.”
While eating a cockroach might be a little too high of a barrier for some to get past, the idea of cockroaches as gross insects carries little weight, especially considering the advances they have led to in the robotics field.
In his TED Talk, Robert Full said, “Cockroaches can go through three mm gaps…the height of two stacked pennies. [A cockroach] can sustain forces 800 times their body weight, and after this they can fly and run absolutely normal.”
By taking these characteristics of a cockroach, engineers at UC Berkeley have created a robot, called C.R.A.M. with a “segmented pliable shell…and like a cockroach it can sprawl out and run using other parts of its leg instead of its feet.”
The applications of this technology seem endless with cockroaches acting as models for the next generation of prosthetics. C.R.A.M can be used as a search and rescue robot squeezing into the smallest of spaces during disasters.
While the cockroaches at Ag Day weren’t being used for such scientific purposes, the next time you see a cockroach, ignore the brainwashing of Stephen King and leave the helpful cockroach alone. Besides, it’s not like you’ll be able to kill it anyway.[vc_text_separator title=”Opinion” color=”custom” accent_color=”#2bb673″]

Mooove over omnivores

Consumption of meat has negative impact

Opinion by Rachael Erickson, Anna Xu

Frozen inspired the names of the two show cows, Ana and Elsa, which the University of Missouri shared at the annual Ag Day Thursday.
Ana is a four-year-old Jersey, a breed used primarily for meat, and Elsa is a  two-year-old Holstein, the spotted black and white breed used to produce dairy products.
Many met the cows with great enthusiasm and eagerly attempted to milk them, ignorant to the darker side of the story: that livestock, like Ana and Elsa, are major contributors to the imminent threat of climate change.
“I think it’s sad…whenever I think of cow farms or see cows in the trailers going away, I think about how…they’re going away to be killed,” sophomore Audrey Guess said, “and I think it’s sad [because] cows are cute.”
The 2006 report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, states, “The livestock sector is a major stressor on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is…one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity, while in developed and emerging countries it is perhaps the leading source of water pollution.”  In addition, livestock is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse emissions, according to the USDA. When producing one pound of beef, 441 gallons of water are used, and seven times more carbon is released than the creation of the same amount of chicken. Furthermore, the cattle industry discharges unfathomable amounts of methane.
According to Global Citizen in 2016, “While cows and other livestock “emit” a variety of greenhouse gases, the most worrisome byproduct of their digestive tracts is methane. Even though carbon dioxide is the primary culprit of climate change, methane is 84 times more powerful when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere. Additionally, methane diffuses into the air quickly, creating a more rapid warming effect than other greenhouse gases.”
All of these factors combine to create a cattle industry that is completely unsustainable, yet continues to be supported by the American public by consuming, on average, 55.6 pounds of beef annually, according to the Department of Agriculture.
An article published by Bobby Magill in April of 2016 suggests, “shifting diets away from meat could slash in half per capita greenhouse gas emissions related to eating habits worldwide… both the environment and the climate will benefit if people adopt a lower-calorie diet in meat consumption, especially beef.” This is the facet of cattle that many, such as Guess, are oblivious to, and is affecting the environment in irreversible ways.
So the next time you see that juicy, tender steak on the menu, ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Our future depends on it.

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