My heart was pounding in rhythm with the pig I was cradling as we sat in the library awaiting our cue. I could hear the roar coming from the gym full of elementary kids who couldn't contain their excitement. Their principal, Mr. Clements, and his assistant, Mr. Cannon, had agreed to kiss a pig if the students read 5,970 pages on Read-In Day. Really, I was just as thrilled to have the opportunity to share one of our family's pigs.
Even though McIntire Elementary is in the heart of the Midwest, seeing their principal kiss a pig might be the closest many of those kids ever get to a farm animal.
For more than 25 years, my grandparents hosted their local kindergarten classes on their diversified crop and livestock farm. When my grandpa passed away this past July, I stumbled across photos of him and Grammie surrounded by kindergartners eager to experience life on the farm.
Gleaning inspiration from my grandparents, I reached out to a couple schools to let them know I'd welcome the opportunity to bring a pig for show and tell. A few days later, a teacher friend posted on Facebook she was looking for a pig for her school's principal to kiss. I volunteered right away.
After seeing the kiss-the-pig photos on Facebook, a kindergarten teacher from my son's school asked if I'd bring in a pig to share during their animal unit. Again, I jumped at the chance to share how farmers care for their livestock.
When you introduce children to farm animals, they might turn their nose from the smell, but they don't get caught up in how they're raised and what they're fed. While they won't be grocery shopping any time soon, they will someday. When that day comes, I hope they remember the lady who brought a pig to school, answered their questions and told them how farmers like her care for livestock and the land.
Maybe you don't raise hogs, but this fall you could volunteer to bring in cornstalks or soybean plants and show a video of harvest. Kids form opinions earlier than we often think‚Äîand what better way for them to learn about ag than from a farmer?