Students Learning About Farming First-Hand

Turnip greens, pork chops and chicken soup, it's a tasty lunch for the students at Pearl River Central High School, but this meal didn't come from the school cafeteria. The students are eating livestock they raised and vegetables they grew.

"It shows you how good of a job you did because it taste so great when you get to eat the food," high schooler Brandi Galmiche said.

The students are learning the payoff of their Agri-Science Class. Half of the 90 minute class time is spent actually working the farm, raising goats, chickens and quail. They also learning about growing crops.

"It teaches you a lot. In the future if you plan on going into agriculture or what ever you know how to raise the animals you know what to feed then you know how to keep the soil the right pH balance and the nitrogen," 11th grader Lorenzo Martin said.

"A lot of them are transplants from New Orleans, and they are living in communities where no animals are allowed," their instructor Leroy Ferguson said. "If they didn't have them at school, they wouldn't be exposed to them at all."

Early exposure to farm animals is giving some of these high school students a jump on their futures.

"When I graduate, I plan on being a veterinarian," Galmiche said. "In this class, we learn how to feed animals, care for them, vaccinate the animals, worm the animals, and that's going to help me to be a veterinarian."

"Each one needs to know how to do all facets of it," Ferguson said. "A lot of kids come in here thinking it comes out of the grocery store. They have a new attitude when they leave out knowing where and how it's grown."

What the students don't eat, they sell. They've sold hundreds of bunches of greens and dozens of fresh eggs. The money generated is used to buy feed for the animals or products to grow vegetables.

Students also use the money they raise to help people. The kids recently purchased and delivered house slippers to several nursing home residents in Pearl River County.