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Youngsters learn about farm life from high-schoolers and friendly animals 

Caledonia —  “Hey mister goat!” Paris Ridge Elementary student Ricky cheerfully greeted Zatz, a baby goat playing in an enclosure outside of the school. 

Ricky appeared hesitant to pet Zatz, but found the courage to pet a nearby chicken a few minutes later.

Caledonia High School senior Lucas Vincent, a Paris Ridge alum, told a group of elementary students that goats love to play and chase people around, much like dogs. 

One student shared his previous goat knowledge: “In cartoons I see goats eating pants and sweatshirts. They love sweatshirts.”

High-school food science students and their teacher, Stacy Bender, brought the menagerie of farm animals to Paris Ridge for younger students to learn about goats, sheep, chickens and rabbits.   

“We learned a lot about farm animals throughout the semester, and this was also a fun thing to do with live animals so kids could experience how friendly animals can be,” said Lucas.

Students from various grade levels rotated through the stations throughout the morning. They also got to shake jars of heavy cream to make butter and plant green-bean seeds to take home.

“It’s been such a fun day,” Bender said. “We originally designed the food science class visit for students in the ASD (autism spectrum disorder) classroom at Duncan Lake Early Childhood Center. It went so well, we opened it up to the lower elementary students at Paris Ridge for the first time this year.”

Four Stomachs? Really?

High-schoolers created presentations on each animal and shared information about their diets and how they contribute materials like milk, meat and wool for human use.

Senior Taylor Walter challenged students to guess how many stomachs sheep have. The answer elicited surprised reactions.

“Sheep have four stomachs,” Taylor revealed. “That’s why they can digest hay. Their stomachs are made for it.” 

Senior Hailey Popma asked the group, “Did you try using soap made from goat’s milk at our hand washing station? You can take goat’s milk and make a lot of things with it.”

Hailey also explained how taking food science has taught her about using animal products as ingredients in recipes and how to make and market products, like soap. 

“We’ve learned how to be knowledgeable and informed about animal meats and products,” she added. “It’s so much more than just a cooking class.”

Read more from Caledonia: 
From chick to nuggets: understanding the science of food
Exchange students take younger peers ‘around the world’

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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