This Saturday, Bishop Union High School’s Future Farmers of America is hosting the premier Family Farm Read event intended to encourage reading while introducing the world of farm animals to local youngsters.
Everyone is invited to the Family Farm Read free of charge, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. April 5, at the BUHS FFA Farm, which borders both sides of Sunland Avenue, just south of West Line Street and across from the new hospital building and middle school sports field. The primary purpose of the farm festival is “to educate families in our community and in Inyo County about our agricultural lifestyle … and to encourage reading,” said Corey Buffington, event founder and key organizer. BUHS FFA student leaders Allison Hooker, Taylor Stoll, Katie Tanksley, Katie Doonan, Hannah Simpson, Kira Baiano, Sierra Yeager and Cassie McKinley are Buffington’s main assistants but all of the 110 BUHS FFA student “will be involved with the event from setup to tear down,” said Joe Buffington, BUHS agriculture teacher, FFA advisor and Corey’s husband.
There will be a bunch of interesting, fun and, yes, educational stuff for folks, especially youngsters, to do and see at Family Farm Read.
Barn baby tours and a petting area will bring children nose-to-muzzle with perky piglets, nimble calves, rambunctious kids, lively lambs, skittering turkey chicks and frolicsome foals – mares and foals will be there courtesy of Ronnie and Cathy Yirbbe. All toll, BUHS FFA farm is currently home to 26 ewes and 33 lambs, 22 cows and 16 calves, two goat does and three kids, three sows and 33 piglets, and two noble protectors of sheep, Axle the llama and Laney the donkey, who scare off mountain lions and coyotes.
McKinley said, “We hope to change the minds of little kids and hopefully get them into farm animals.” “We want to share our stories with the kids,” Hooker said, “Teach them about the animals and show them our projects,” which involve raising and caring for livestock, from birth until the day they go off to market. “It’s like a part of my life now … And this is the perfect time of year, have all these babies now.”
In addition to the animal attractions at Family Farm Read, Altrusa International of the Eastern Sierra members will read aloud from farm-themed storybooks and First 5 will host a variety of games. Bishop McDonalds will also provide free refreshments and there will be hand-washing station services donated by Bishop Waste Disposal.
Kids who visit the Inyo County Superintendent of Schools Regional Occupation Program-sponsored event can take home a new view of farm life, a book, courtesy of Altrusa, to read and share with friends, an FFA green house seedling to plant and nurture and maybe a new vocation.
Many BUHS FFA students fell in love with agriculture at age of 8 or 9 when they joined 4-H. Now, these teens want to get a new generation involved. “We have a very nice place for anyone who is interested to find their part in agriculture,” Joe Buffington said. “People work hard every day of their lives to provide the food we eat and I think it’s important for the community to know where that food comes from.”
Speaking of food, there will also be a bake sale at Family Farm Read. Proceeds will help with travel expenses forYeager’s trip to the FFA Regional Leadership and State Leadership conferences in San Joaquin on March 28 and Fresno on April 12. The conferences are held “to create better speakers and positive leaders for our agriculture industry,” said Joe Buffington.
Corey Buffington first came up with Family Farm Read idea in collaboration with Altrusa just this spring, thinking it would make a good counterbalance to the annual fall FFA Farm Pumpkin Patch. “I hope it will become an annual event,” Buffington said, adding that folks are also invited to visit the BUHS FFA page on FaceBook.