By Sharon Toth
One of the favorite spots of many children at the 2021 Brazoria County Fair was the Agricultural Education Barn, where youngsters would try to get a glimpse of baby chickens hatching from eggs.
Many of those families were crowded around Deana Fuchs, who supervised the egg-hatching operation, and who seemed to get as much joy from watching the children as they did from watching the hatchlings.
Fuchs works in agriculture, or “ag” education, as the Ag Program Coordinator at the Texas Farm Bureau in Angleton. She also serves as the chairperson for the Fair’s Agricultural Education Committee, and she will be supervising the barn again this year.
She and volunteers will be overseeing some of the same farm animals as in 2021 in the educational ag barn, including chickens, goats and a baby calf, but there also will be some baby ducks added this year to the entertainment.
The ducklings will be walking up a ramp to a slide, where there’s a bowl of food attached nearby, and many of them will be scuttling down, surely a cute scene that will be picture-worthy and will draw many families to the ag education barn at the 2022 Brazoria County Fair.
For youngsters concerned that some of the ducks seem to miss the feed bowl and slide more than eat, Fuchs assures that the baby ducks are fed.
There’s also a small pond area at the bottom of the slide for them to enjoy as they coast down the slide.
“They kind of perform for their food,” she said.
Children also have the opportunity to learn that the “down” from the ducks can be used to fill pillows, blankets and more, and duck eggs can be eaten.
Brazoria County Beekeepers will be bringing an enclosed plexiglass container with some bees in it so children can see how the bees move around in a hive environment, but the display hours may be limited due to the nature of the bees becoming irritated after a while, she added.
The ag barn will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily except for Sunday, when the doors will open at noon, and free activity booklets will be available for kids.
Another new feature of the ag education program, not in the barn but nearby, will be a mobile dairy classroom, a trailer with a dairy cow, that will be open Oct. 15-17 with five milking demonstrations daily during those three days. A representative of Southwest Dairy Farmers will show young guests how milk is derived from cows.
The purpose of the barn and the dairy classroom is not only to entertain but to educate children about farm animals and their role in our lives, which includes what Fuchs said is “Food, Fiber and Fuel.”
Schools and daycare centers are welcome to bring children on field trips to the ag barn, and there will be no Fair admission charge, said Fuchs. They just need to schedule their visit. Usually, the visits are at times when the pace has slowed, so Fuchs can give the guests more of her attention.
Educators and child-care workers interested in visiting with a group of children should go to the Brazoria County Tour Guide Barn Facebook page, and there is a link there they can click on to get the details about scheduling.
Last year, Fuchs ran the barn mostly on her own, but this year she will have some Future Farmers of America and 4-H members working as volunteers to help her.
The motto of the farm bureau is “To be the voice of agriculture,” and the ag barn is just an extension of Fuchs’ work for the bureau, which includes visiting schools and teaching about agriculture.