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Central Noble FFA Brings Back Petting Zoo

by Steve Grinczel

Published: Friday, April 2, 2021

It's all about the fur. And the feathers, and the noses, and the bones and the cuteness.

But mostly, the fur.

After being cancelled last spring because of COVID-19, the Petting Zoo made a welcomed return Tuesday to the Ag Shop at Central Noble Junior/Senior High School. Central Noble FFA members and their SAE projects or 4-H animals hosted more than 1,000 students—between those in K-5 making the short walk from the primary and elementary school buildings and those in the high school —throughout the day.

"Our goal is, we want them to go home and tell mom, 'I pet a cow today,'" said co-FFA Adviser Jamie Earnhart who runs the program with Karrin Koontz. "It's so exciting to be able to do this again and the kids love it.

"Our FFA kids, who are primarily farm kids, take this for granted sometimes because they're with these animals every day. But we see so many times that the younger kids have no idea or don't understand this because they don't get to see it. When they go to pet that fluffy cow, it's the first time they ever touched a cow."

Or a duck, or baby Shetland sheep, or a Quarter Horse or a chick, or a goat. There were even fish in the aquaculture tank, but no one was petting them.

Makenzie Resler, a high school senior, said the question she often gets is why does her Jersey cow named Cherry, making a sixth appearance at the event, have bones that "stick up in the back," referring to her hooks and pins, and the nearby beef-cow doesn't?

"It's really shocking to hear how many kids don't know where milk comes from," Resler said.

Faith Lortie, who brought her heifer in from Hy-Class Holsteins, said she has questions for the youngsters, too.

"I ask them, 'Who likes ice cream, cheese and milk?'" Lortie said. "We help educate them about how it's made and about our industry so they can pass it on."

The pint-sized donkey tended to by eight-graders Kord Bailey and Cole Lake didn't mind all the back-pats she was getting.

"As long as it's her way, she's OK," Bailey said. "But donkeys can be pretty stubborn."

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