Peering under a cow, Liz Alexander was wide-eyed, and enthusiastic. The Derby high school student is one of a dozen Vermont teenagers taking part in a week-long program at Vermont Technical College in Randolph.
“It’s a new experience, getting to see a lot more about where food comes from,” she said.
That’s the idea.
The program, sponsored by the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont, includes visits by the state’s top agriculture experts, and practical exposure to both cow barns, gardens, and classrooms.
Owen Manley of Milton is eager to learn. His family used to milk dairy cows.
After a couple of days, he says, he’s learned it’s the small skills it takes to be a farmer and how all those small skills add up to a lot of hard work.”
On Tuesday, students were learning about the life cycle of carbon on the farm — from growing crops and soil management to how cows process feed into milk — and manure.
“We teach kids how farming, if done well, is very high tech,” said instructor Chris Dutton, a VTC veterinarian and professor of agriculture.
And maybe inspire a few of them to make it a career.
“That’s our game,” he adds. “There just aren’t enough.”