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August 21, 2010

Illinois FFA Offers More Than A Petting Zoo

SRINGFIELD, Ill. – These days, the National FFA Organization is teaching more than just about plows, cows and sows.  Through agriculture education, students learn skills they will use for the rest of their lives, including leadership and career skills.

“It gives you something to be passionate about,” said State FFA President John Edgar as he talked about the importance of the FFA.  “As you go through high school you’re getting so much out of FFA and it prepares you for your future.”

 “They changed the name from Future Farmers of America to the National FFA Organization because everyone thought it was just for farmers,” said state FFA Reporter, Morgan Ott.  “Now we are reaching out to that urban area of agriculture to show them that it is not just for farmers but it still has that agriculture background.”

At the petting zoo, state FFA officers are not only trying to raise awareness for agriculture education and FFA, but they are also educating fairgoers about livestock.

“There’s so many of the little kids that have never been around livestock.  Yeah, it’s a petting zoo, but we want them to become familiar with where their food comes from and how it’s raised,” FFA’s Executive Secretary Jim Craft said.

Piglets, lambs and ducklings are just a few of the baby animals you can see at the Illinois Association FFA’s Barnyard.  They also have a calf, rabbits, chicks, goats and a donkey.  The Barnyard is located next to the State Police tent and Vose’s food stand.


It took teamwork, nimble hands and a little sweet talking, but Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin’s Office was able to pull out their first ever win at the 2010 Moo-Moo Classic.

Eight teams competed in a cow-milking competition.  The event was broken down into two heats of four teams, with the top two teams advancing to a “milk-off.”  The teams are judged on how much milk they can squirt into a bucket in under a minute.

Participants of the first heat included the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, USDA, Illinois State Police and FFA.  The second heat of teams included the Illinois State Fair, Illinois Association of Park Districts, Springfield Mayor Davlin’s Office and the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office.

In a wild turn of events, the first round ended with a tie between Mayor Davlin’s Office and the Illinois Treasurer’s Office with both teams weighing in five pounds of milk, while the Illinois State Police team won convincingly in heat one with four pounds of milk.

The final “milk-off” round came down to a narrow margin of victory as Mayor Davlin’s Office weighed in with 4 pounds of milk, while the Illinois Treasurer’s Office came in second with 3 ¾ pounds.

Mayor Davlin’s team deployed numerous tactics to help facilitate the flow of milk as members of the team could be seen massaging the sides of their cow, while also whispering inspirational words into the ears of the cow.

“This is our eighth year of competing and our first win, so it means a great deal to us,” Mayor Davlin said.  “We’ve been practicing for seven years, so this really is one of the happiest moments we have ever had at the Illinois State Fair.”       


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