I don’t think you can really say you’ve been on a field trip until you’ve gone somewhere that has a cow with a viewing window.
Not a window you look through to see a cow mind you, but a cow with an actual window in the side of it. The third graders had been pretty subdued up until that portion of the “Ag Adventure.” We’d check out some sheep, seen some wool being spun into yarn, that sort of thing; but then came “the cow.” There were a lot of third graders at Colorado State University’s agricultural education center the day I visited with my daughter’s class. So many that we were herded from one livestock exhibit to the next. But when we came up on the cow with a view everyone stopped it their tracks.
“What is that?” They all wanted to know. Me too.
Once we worked our way around to the proper station a perky girl named Heather with a “I heart beef” sticker informed us that the “window” is actually a “port” used for collecting stomach bacteria, not sightseeing. That’s right about when she got out a plastic glove that reached all the way to her shoulder and explained how she had collected a bacteria sample from the cow’s stomach (turns out they only have one, despite what you’ve heard otherwise) that morning. The look on those third grade faces was truly awesome.
I love Michelle Obama and agree with her message about childhood obesity; but I’m not sure about the “knowing where your food comes from” piece of the message. There are some bits of information that make it a lot harder to get the kids to finish their dinner.
Soon after the plastic glove there was a Q&A session. My favorite came from Johnny (his real name), who asked, “How do they get the steaks out of the cow?” Heather sidestepped the question saying they feed the animals well before taking them “to market.” I wish she would have reworded that; I’ll have trouble getting the kids to go to the grocery store with me now that they think it’s a place you go to die.
Yes I think there’s some things kids would rather not know. It’s always a tough day for a parent’s menu planning when little kids discover that the meat on their plates comes from the animals in their barnyard play set. Some stay in a vegetarian stage for months; for others it only lasts as far as the drive-thru of McDonalds (Not a lot on fast food joints’ menus for vegetarians to choose from). I know because I was a vegetarian for about 5 years and then didn’t eat red meat for a decade more after that. Mine was more of a health choice than one made for philosophical reasons. My cousin on the other hand refused to eat “anything that had a central nervous system.”
My eldest daughter, the one on the field trip, is pragmatic. She was 2 when I found a Nemo from her bath toys on the table in the doll house. “They’re having fish for dinner,” she explained in a matter-of-fact tone. When she was older and some of her prized ladybug pets died I found her putting them in the bird feeder. The girl is no stranger to the cycle of life. Which is why she had no problem with what they were serving in the cafeteria after her field trip that day: cheeseburgers.