BuCo Resident Named Ag Trainer of 2023 – Butler County Instances-Gazette

Nikole Babb nbabb@cherryroad.com

Agriculture within the classroom isn’t one thing that’s unfamiliar at Bluestem Faculty District. The truth is, it’s a day by day class for many college students at Bluestem. Barbara McCaffree has devoted a complete program, Ag Academy, to agriculture that gained her the title of Ag Trainer of the Yr for 2023. McCaffree has gone above and past to show college students all issues regarding agriculture from elevating, doctoring and butchering livestock to planting and promoting greens from seed.

Rising up, McCaffree all the time knew she needed to show. She grew up on a ranch in Rexford, Kan. operating cattle and hay. After graduating highschool, she took a rodeo scholarship to Dodge Metropolis Neighborhood Faculty, (DCCC), the place she participated in staff and breakaway roping in addition to barrel racing. After attending DCCC she went on to graduate from Fort Hays College together with her instructing diploma. In her 37 years in instructing, she’s taught one yr in Pampa, Texas, seven years in Andover and has been instructing at Bluestem since 1994.

“My dad and mom all the time advised me I may change my thoughts, however I knew I needed to be a instructor,” mentioned Mc-Caffree. “I simply find it irresistible.”

Whereas incorporating agriculture into the classroom has all the time been part of her curriculum, McCaffree took it a step additional in 2007 when Debbie Webster, Bluestem Excessive Faculty Principal on the time, took a staff of academics to go to Walton Rural Life Middle. The women got here again with a dream and motivation to deliver agriculture to the scholars again in Leon. With their mixed expertise and data of agriculture of their private lives, they knew it might be achieved.

They began with a rooster coop that sat on the north facet of the playground the place college students may come and verify on the chickens. A yr later, a two-stall barn that housed two bottle calves and two goats had been added to the farm. The ball stored rolling and McCaffree took a proposition to the college board so as to add one other barn to the scholar farm plus feed buckets and different provides wanted to take care of extra animals and run a real ag classroom. The $36,000 price was deliberate to be coated from the greenhouse funds the scholars had saved. Unwavering assist got here from the college board who determined to cowl the price of the barn fully plus extra to incorporate temperature management, pens and runs for the animals.

Different assist has poured in from the neighborhood since then. Memorial loafing sheds have been donated, provides like chore boots and gloves for the scholars and bales of hay from farmers are available yearly. One farmer even donated 25 acres of land that’s completely baled for sophistication use. A hydraulic chute and tub had been added thanks to 1 beneficiant donor whereas one other will assist this system this yr with an ad- dition onto the west facet of the barn for feed and hay storage.

“The assist has simply been loopy ever since,” mentioned Mc-Caffree.

Classes in Ag Academy span all topics – homemaking, gardening, math, monetary, medical and extra. Ranging from Early Childhood by way of sixth grade, college students have fingers on expertise and watch reside in individual classes. Classes can embody something from castrating a bull, doctoring cattle, gathering eggs, rising and harvesting produce, making and canning recent salsa, monitoring gross sales from salsa, eggs and meat which can be offered on the native mercantile and common farm chores. McCaffree’s largest lesson in all of that is to make sure college students study that meals comes from farmers, not from a grocery retailer. An essential lesson everybody ought to know.

“It’s simply superb even being in a rural neighborhood, what a few of the children may not know,” mentioned McCaffree. “But it surely’s like being a grandma – I get to allow them to are available, spoil them a little bit, we run round a little bit bit and off they go!”

What makes Ag Academy distinctive is the vary of studying types which can be in a position to profit. Not solely can they do math on the board from promoting their merchandise, however they get their fingers soiled in recent air most days too. The children love scooping out the pens, stalls, feeding the animals and planting the produce. From germinating seeds to promoting the crops, college students are studying nice gardening abilities as nicely. They take part within the bi-annual plant sale that kicks off this month. In case you’re fascinated about ordering crops from the scholars, you may go to https://www. usd205.com/live-feed?page_no=2 or decide one up on the elementary faculty workplace.

“I’ll see the children within the hallway and so they get excited as a result of they get to do chores with me,” Stated McCaffree. “They prefer it!”

Though horses aren’t allowed inside town limits of Leon, they’re introduced on campus for use with particular wants college students. The horses act as remedy for the scholars. Using a horse is soothing for the kids whereas stimulating the mind. McCaffree will do math or flashcards with the scholars. Generally all the scholars want is a break with the horses, in order that they experience them down the block and again or brush them. The coed farm has expanded at present to having 25 chickens, 3 children, 3 doe goats, 3 pregnant ewes, 6 steers, 2 rabbits, 2 lambs, 3 bottle calves and 1 turkey.

Despite the fact that her ardour for agriculture spans greater than a rustic mile, McCaffree’s largest ardour is for her college students. She shares that she likes to get with dad and mom and focus on elevating the kid collectively as a substitute of simply being their instructor. Creating a deeper relationship with the dad and mom and college students permits for a extra susceptible and open dialogue about good and “dangerous” days.

“I like the connection you construct by being with the children all day,” mentioned McCaffree. “You actually get to know them. We’re all on the identical staff.”

On high of operating Ag Academy, McCaffree has directed and deliberate a Butler County Ag Day yearly since 2015. The annual occasion attracted 480 third and 4th graders from 25 colleges in 2022 that rotated by way of 25 studying stations from native farmers and agriculture professionals. It’s held yearly in Oct. and invitations the complete county to come back go to a farm just a few miles away for the day.

There’s no query as to why the Kansas Basis for Agriculture within the Classroom selected Barbara McCaffree as Ag Trainer of the Yr. Her vivid and true ardour for instructing youngsters about agriculture fuses collectively in a seamless method, translating to her college students’ pleasure. Alongside together with her title, she’s gained an all-expenses paid journey out to attend the 2023 Nationwide Agriculture within the Classroom convention in Orlando, Florida in June. She may even be thought-about for the Nationwide Excellence in Instructing About Agriculture Award. Butler County is proud to have somebody like Mrs. McCaffree as certainly one of its residents.

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