Post Number: 51
|Posted on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 02:18 pm: |
There is a program instituted by USDA called "The Agriculture Discovery Program". It is set up to expose underprivileged children to the different aspects of the agricultural industry with the hope that it will inspire some of them to consider a future in agriculture. Mississippi's program, is sponsored by the Ms. Board of Animal Health (the Ms. regulatory agency for cervids) in conjunction with Alcorn State University and hosted youths from Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
We received a request from Dr. Jim Watson, (Mississippi State Veterinarian) to arrange a "field-trip" for this group that would give them an insight into the captive cervidae industry in Mississippi. One of my customers, graciously volunteered his facility to sponsor this event.
Dr. Watson, Dr. Cassandra Vaughn (Alcorn State University Staff Veterinarian) several counselors and 23 youths made the trip to the farm near Natchez, Ms. Dr. Watson arrived early and was given a private tour of the facility before the group arrived.
During the tour with Dr. Watson, we discussed many aspects of captive cervid enclosures. I asked Dr. Watson how many of these type facilities he had visited and was a bit surprised to find out that this was his first experience with visiting a facility engaged in exotic animal ranching and/or deer farming. During our conversation, Dr. Watson revealed, that he expected in the near future, we would encounter considerable resistance in expanding our industry in Mississippi. I told him we would stay the course and fight any unfair future legislation.
As the rest of the group arrived and Dr. Watson departed due to a schedule conflict.
A brief time was spent doing introductions of the participants and sponsors, then the kids were offered a question and answer forum so we could get a handle on what they expected a "deer farm" to be like.
Kids are the best interrogators in the world, because they ask very poignant questions without the subtleties adults use to mask their underlying intentions. The questions and answers were GREAT and the kids were very inquisitive as to the how the place was operated, how animals were captured and transported, how many types of animals that were in the facility, how we manage the population, etc. After giving the kids enough information to encourage their curiosity, we took them for a rolling-tour (hay-ride style) of the facility. The ride lasted over 1-1/2 hours and the kids were able to see 19 of the 20 species of animals on this farm. What an experience they had! The amount ooo's and ah's were immeasurable. We stopped for a picnic lunch aside one of the property's lakes. Lunch consisted of Sandwiches, Po-boys, Fruit, Cookies and Cakes, and Soft Drinks.
After lunch, we concluded the visit with another question and answer session. Here, we learned what the kids had experienced and they were full of new questions about the animals and the facility. During this time Dr. Cassandra Vaughn admitted, that until a couple of weeks ago, she didn't realize that Mississippi even had places like this. She was quite impressed by the "science" of an operation this complex. I think alot was learned by both the kids and their sponsors, and I hope we made a good enough impression that some of these kids may actually grow up to help support our cause in the future.
If you have an opportunity to participate in an event such as this, I highly recommend you do so. I got just as much enjoyment from seeing the excitement and wonder on the faces of the children, as they got from the experience of being out in the woods with animals they would never have seen anywhere else.
I would like to take this oppertunity to personally thank Mr. RH for his hospitality and support of this effort. I am including a few pics of the event.
|Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 11:31 am: |
What a wonderful program! So many people know little or nothing about any farm activities much less the captive cervid industry. It has been our experience that people in general are wary of anything they have little or no knowledge about, and there initial attitude is generally a bit on the negative side. Each and every opportunity to educate all Americans on the unique and fascinating aspects of cervid agriculture will help immensely in promoting understanding and a desire to live in harmony with the scientific breeder. God bless you and please let me know if there is anything we at USSA can do to help you in any of your future activities.
President and Founder
Post Number: 52
|Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 12:49 pm: |
Thanks for your kind words. I have always believed you get out of your life what you put back into it. We have made a tremendous effort in Mississippi to educate and involve as many people as possible in our business. The inspiration for programs like this come partially from your and USSA's efforts in involving children. Thanks for your work and presenting me a "class act" to follow.
V.P. Mississippi Exotic Wildlife Assn.