Farm Bureau Book Barns Benefit Students

Clarke County elementary students received an early holiday gift today. Children using the school libraries at D.G. Cooley Elementary and Boyce Elementary can now select from a wide variety of illustrated books about farming and agriculture thanks to the Clarke County Farm Bureau.

Clarke County Farm Bureau president Clay Brumbach presents two book barns and books to D.G. Cooley Elementary School in Berryville, Virginia - Photo Edward Leonard

Most adults understand that much of our food supply comes from farms whether it be grain used in our cereals, milk that we drink or vegetables that we toss into salads. However, farmers have done such a good job delivering reliable, low cost food supplies that it’s sometimes easy to take their hard work for granted.

The Clarke County Farm Bureau wants to make sure that county elementary students have the option to learn about farms and agriculture when they head to the school library. On Monday the Farm Bureau donated two natural hardwood barn-shaped bookshelves packed with books to the Clarke County Public School system.

Judging from today’s response from students who sampled the titles and stories the book barns will be a popular destination during class visits to the library.

“Books are the key to education” said local agriculture supporter Philip Shenck who attended the presentation. “Most students today are a generation removed from agriculture. If you ask many of them where food comes from they’ll say the grocery store. Books like these can help them understand what agriculture is all about.”

Nearly a dozen young readers crowded around the shelves to get a look at the colorful and enticing new titles like “Pigs”, “Fantastic Farm Machines” and “From Tomato to Ketchup”. When the children were asked if they would like to have one of the new titles read aloud there arose a resounding “Yes!” A nearby but unsuspecting Future Farmers of America (FFA) high school student happily agreed to the literary honors.

The Clarke County Farm Bureau president Clay Brumbach officially presented the book barns to the Clarke County School Board. Brumbach and the Farm Bureau have increased efforts over the past year to build a stronger connection with public school students. The book barn shelves were stained and assembled by FFA club members.

“We were looking for a project to re-establish our ties with the schools and the Future Farmers of America” Brumbach said. “Today is a beginning but we hope to provide additional books in the future.”

Christina Hash, FFA vice president and volunteer story-teller selected a book from the shelf simply titled “Pigs”. Hash’s young audience sat riveted as she read while seated in a padded rocking chair.

FFA vice president Chistina Hash treats D.G. Cooley elementary students to a story about pigs - Photo Edward Leonard

“Did you know that sows sing to their piglets while they eat?” Hash the young readers. “Or that in England they once had a breed called orchard pigs because they ate the apples that fell to the ground?” The children listened intently as Hash went on to describe that pigs are excellent swimmers as exemplified by a sow named Priscilla who saved a young boy from drowning.

The book barns were enthusiastically accepted on behalf of their school libraries by D.G. Cooley principal Dr. Stephen Geyer and Boyce Elementary principal Susan Catlett.

“This is an excellent addition for our students because it ties in nicely with all of the programs that will be available to them as they move into higher grades” Dr. Geyer said.

Principal Catlett said that her staff at Boyce Elementary had had their eye on book barns for quite awhile. “The agriculture texts will make a nice addition to our library and fit in well with an upcoming in-service presentation that we are receiving from Agriculture in the Classroom.”

Clay Brumbach said that even though Clarke County has a strong farming culture it’s still important to be proactive on agriculture education.

Clarke County Farm Bureau presented books about farming to D.G Cooley Elementary in Berryville, Virginia and Boyce Elementary in Boyce, Virginia - Photo Edward Leonard

“There are over 500 farms in Clarke County. Our area is so good for farming that sometimes we take for granted where are food comes from” Brumbach said. “We want to be involved in the education of our students and future leaders because we all need to eat.”

Future Farmers of American and Clarke County School Board Chairman Robina Bouffault (l-r) Peter Fens, president, Chance Ramey, sentinel, and Christina Hash, vice president - Photo Edward Leonard