Monday, December 29, 2003

Learning down on the farm


Goshen schools, nature center team up to teach

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

GOSHEN TOWNSHIP - Do you know the difference between a heifer, a steer and a bull?

Twelve-year-old Kayla Sanson of Goshen Township does. She'll tell you a heifer is a female who hasn't had a calf yet, a steer is a castrated male and a bull is a male used for breeding.

[img]
Tiffany Wood, 12, a sixth grade student at Goshen Middle School, pets a goat as she and her classmates learn about conservation resources.
(Gary Landers photo)
Kayla and her sixth-grade classmates at Goshen Middle School in Clermont County can also tell you how to pick a bull and a cow to breed Black Angus steers for leaner meat, how people in Ethiopia use animals, and that a male rabbit and three female rabbits can produce more meat than one steer.

The students are learning at Long Branch Farm about animal breeding, genetics and how other cultures use animals. Long Branch is a working farm operated by the Cincinnati Nature Center.

For the 2,700-student Goshen School District, field trips to Long Branch Farm have become standard for illustrating concepts taught in the classroom, said Middle School Principal Troy Smith.

Goshen schools and Long Branch have several programs, including:

• Fourth-grade students came to the farm earlier this year for an Ohio history lesson.

• Fifth-graders in January will learn about the cycle of energy in a program called "Manure to Muscle."

• Next year the farm hopes to provide a program that teaches life needs to first-graders.

And it goes beyond science and farming. Jamii Brown, a sixth-grade social studies and language arts teacher at Goshen Middle School, uses lessons taught at the farm about conservation and the lifestyles of other cultures.

"It really lets the kids think about how other people in the world live," she said. "A lot of them were amazed by how people live in Ethiopia and Thailand, like we talked about here."

For many of the children, a visit to Long Branch may be their first encounter with a farm at all.

"It's become very suburban, so for a lot of these kids, they've maybe seen (a farm), but they didn't know what they're seeing," said Marcia Huff, a part-time educator at the farm.

Long Branch Farm

The Cincinnati Nature Center, 4949 Tealtown Road, Union Township, Clermont County, was founded in 1965. It operates Rowe Woods at the center and Long Branch Farm in Goshen Township.

Together, the two comprise 1,500 acres of natural and agricultural land that is visited by 12,000 schoolchildren each year.

For information, visit www.cincynature.org or call 831-1711.

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E-mail kvance@fuse.net




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