School Ag Program Gives City Teen Chance to Work on Dairy Farm

9/15/2012 7:00 AM
By Marjorie Struckle New York Correspondent

Dutchess County Fair




RHINEBECK, N.Y. — A Queens, N.Y., teen got a close-up look at farm life this summer after spending two months on a farm in Rensselaer County.

Talassa Barry, 17, lived and worked with the Chittenden family on Dutch Hollow Farm in Schodack Landing as part of an internship through John Bowne High School in Flushing, N.Y.

“I had seen cows, but never had worked with them,” Barry said. “I lucked out, being placed on a Jersey farm, my favorite cows.”

John Bowne is a public school with 3,800 students, 600 of which make up the agricultural program, along with eight teachers.

“Fifteen students were placed this year on farms throughout New York state,” said Steve Perry, assistant principal-agriculture.”

“I’m learning about the farm, the large animal aspect of agriculture and helping with chores,” Barry said of her experience as an intern on the farm, which as 600 milking cows and 600 supporting livestock.

Among her duties were assisting with feeding calves, cleaning stalls and helping to exhibit the animals at local fairs. She worked with the calf Dutch Hollow Eclipse Sassafras-P, born June 3, 2011, and exhibited her at the Dutchess County Fair.

Her mother traveled from New York City to watch her exhibit the calf in the classes and in showmanship.

Barry said she loves the Jerseys for their small stature and playful and energetic nature.

She said she also enjoyed the quiet countryside, to which she adapted quickly. “It was harder having me away for my mom than for me,” she said. “This has gone by fast and I’d like to stay.”

Barry also laughed at some of the adventures she had on the farm. “The first week, I was watching the hoof trimmer work and backed into the manure pit. Being on a farm is not a clean job.”

Although she was unsure of what to expect on the farm, Barry said she was willing to experience everything.

“A lot is what I expected, but I didn’t expect there to be as much science involved with farming. That was a shock,” she said.

John Bowne has a four-acre land laboratory with a poultry house, large animals and exotic animal facilities. It also has a greenhouse, orchard and field crops which introduced Barry to farm expectations.

Her goal is to attend SUNY Cobleskill and eventually become a small and large animal veterinarian.

The paid internships are developed working with the New York State Department of Labor’s Farm Cadet Program. Some 200 student are placed in both city and farm jobs for their second and third summers.

“I definitely am planning on visiting the family and maybe will work on a farm again, too,” Barry said.

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