Boyd special needs students get to farm

Mar. 19—CATLETTSBURG — There's plenty to see at a farm, but the animals might be the favorite part for some of the special needs students making a visit.

Most recently, students visited Triangle O Farms, where Emily Opell Hankins, a five-time Boyd County 4-H county fair grand champion showing steers and a 4-H horse club member, showed the students around.

The visit last week on Thursday was one of three farm visits students in the 4-H Complex Needs Club made this session.

Students fed the cattle and learned about the feed and where their beef comes from. They also fed horses and learned about reining horses, a field in which Hankins experienced: She has won $111,295 in reining horse competition, including a $15,000 win at the National Reigning Horse Association Derby two years ago.

During the hour-and-a-half visit, students visited the cattle field, saw some calves and spent time with farm dogs Darla Sue and Runaround.

Rebecca Stahler, 4-H youth development agent for Boyd County, said she was approached 13 years ago by Boyd County Middle School teacher Lena Moore, who was looking for extracurricular activities for her special needs/complex learners class.

"I began the Cannonsburg Clovers and the club has grown to include Boyd County Middle and Boyd County High school classes," she said. "Some counties offer clubs for these students if they have the available staff and opportunity."

Stahler said she's pleased with the results.

"These clubs are the most rewarding thing I have done in my 24-year career," she said.

Moore said she's grateful for the opportunities for her students.

"This also allows my students to experience and learn about things hands-on that they would not have had the chance to without these monthly trips," she said, noting the students enjoy seeking a variety of farm animals. "I have some students who do not interact a lot in a class setting, but in the open and friendly setting of the 4-H trips, they will answer questions."

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