Ag day educates students on Columbia FFA Chapter


12 year old American Paint horse JD, looks curiously into the camera. Photo by George Frey/Bearing News

Jared Geyer

Hosted by the RBHS Future Farmers of America, animals ranging from fluffy rabbits to brawny horses all gathered at the annual Agriculture Day (AG Day) on the east side of RBHS. Small wired fences kept the animals separated and confined, but student interaction was heavily encouraged. The separate animal pens were cared for by RBHS students involved in the (FFA) club, such as Kynsee Fennel, who sat by the sheep enclosure.
“The purpose of [AG day] is to get people that don’t get to see these animals every day a chance to see and learn about them,” Fennel said. “The Agriculture industry is decreasing, so less people get to see these types of animals frequently.”
The most popular station of Ag Day was undoubtedly the young cow Oliver. Junior twins Audrey and Olivia Guess said that while they saw cows last year, they couldn’t compare to the endearment of the 13 month old calf Oliver. The Guess’ even overheard another student remark they were glad to be a vegetarian after seeing Oliver. While all the animals were very cute, from the fluffy rabbits to the beautiful miniature horse, the soft presence of Oliver warmed their hearts.
“The cow, Oliver the cow,” Audrey Guess said. “The cow’s face was so cute, and he was surprisingly soft,” Olivia finished.
RBHS FFA members were not the only volunteers of AG Day. Christian Ward is a student at the University of Missouri and a volunteer at the animal rehab center. Under her breezy tent, an injured hawk rested on her arm and a hand sized precocious screech owl stooped on top of a wooden podium next to her.
“Rehab volunteers can take care of birds, they can go on presentations like this to educate the public, [and] they can help in the medical and medicine departments [as well as] the rehabilitation process,” Ward said.  “Our ultimate goal is to release our birds. Those that can’t be released go on to become education birds.”
Audrey Guess took particular interest to the small screech owl, and she learned a lot from Ward about them. Baylor, the owls name, was struck by a car resulting in an injured eye. He won’t be able to return to his natural habitat because his eye requires eye drops as they no longer properly function.
“I learned about screech owls. I didn’t know there was an owls that small,” Guess says. “I thought it was a statue at first and the lady said that they look like statues because it will help them not be eaten.”
Along with living animals, there were also pieces of different species that were on display.  
“These [bird parts] are from birds that passed away with us and we decided to use them for education because one of the best ways to prevent injury is to educate people.” Ward said. “A lot of our big issues are fences and cars. Birds when hunting often develop a tunnel vision for their prey item. That’s all they will see and not the car coming. If you can see the bird going at it from father away, it helps reduce the amount of birds that are hit.”
Not every presenter at AG Day had an animal companion. The Moberly Area Community College (MACC) hosted a mobile mechatronics lab, a large sophisticated trailer in the back of the exhibits, which showed students opportunities in robotics and mechatronics. Inside was intricate robotic machinery offering interactive elements such as a game of Pong, which utilized buttons from old arcade games. Juan Chacon, the volunteer inside the trailer, heavily advertised robotics and showed RBHS students the many things to see inside the different machines and games.
“We drive [the MACC lab] around to schools and other outreach situations and show students and other people what MACC has to offer in the way of mechatronics, we don’t really show anything else,” Chacon said. “I did not program [the Pong game], I do the hands-on stuff, but I bring it along because it’s really fun.”
Olivia Guess enjoyed Pong Game as when she played it with her friends, she was somehow naturally talented at it.
“I thought it was fun and super cool how the people were able to make it work,” Olivia said. “I’d like to know how they did that someday.”