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COLDWATER, MI — On February 25, the Branch Area Career Center (BACC) in Coldwater, MI went to the birds…and the baby goats and lambs and piglets as the Branch County Conservation District presented their annual Expo.

The event featured programs on invasive insects, wetland determinations, E. Coli, and local Native American history and conservation for those interested and some family programs to encourage younger participants.

Cassidy Wolff and Tristan Furney of the BACC FFA program presented two programs: “What does it take to be a Farmer” and a special tour of the BACC FFA farm lab.

The earlier presentation shared different aspects of farming including conservation/environment work, veterinary, ag production, greenhouses with aquaponics and/or hydroponics, public relations/marketing and agricultural sales. The young people talked about generational farming, learning about the history of seeds, how much knowledge a farmer must have, and teamwork.

The children in the audience were invited to participate in a game where everyone joins hands across the circle and then must untangle themselves. Wolff explained how they worked together to solve a problem and how that relates to an agricultural lifestyle.

She then proceeded to display two goat models and showed the attendees the requirements to caring for animals.

Wolff talked about daily feeding and watering, grooming, medical care and identification.

After her presentation, Furney took a group out on a chilly hay ride to see the live piglets, lambs, and kid goats out in the barns.

The new hog barn is occupied by a sow with her piglets and the children were invited to see and touch the animals. The next barn held the kid goats and lambs with a pair of two-day old babies in a warm incubating area with the birthing ewe.

Once back inside the building, a visit to the greenhouse was next with plants growing with the help of aquaponics and hydroponics, the large tanks held fish that would nibble on fingers, and a waterfall. The children planted seeds to take home once the tour was complete.

The afternoon program featured live birds of prey from the Wildlife Rescue Association. Pigeons, kestrels, tiny owls, hawks and turkey vultures made appearances during the presentation by Joe Rogers, Barb Rogers, and Joanne Williams.

Their ‘live animal’ wildlife education programs were created in 1976 and are becoming more popular as they continue to rehabilitate and care for injured birds.

They are working on developing a system of sanctuary lands for the wildlife populations.

Research efforts are very important in the association. They are based out of Shepherd, MI at The Little Swamp Wildlife Sanctuary.

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