Students explore careers in farming at historic Chester County Farm
Octorara High School students learn about cattle and pasture management and exports
COATESVILLE – Thirty-one students from Octorara Area High School explored farming and agricultural businesses as career options through a career showcase field trip to Lisnageer Farm on Friday, December 14. Funding for the trip was provided by CCRES and the Chester County Economic Development Council’s Southeastern PA Agriculture Partnership. Students in Octorara’s animal and plant science classes enjoyed the sunny afternoon on the farm.
Lisnageer Farm, owned and operated by Bill and Cheryl Fairbairn of Coatesville, leases the historic farm which was once operated by the King Ranch of Texas. This farm was home to the Santa Gertrudis cow developed by the King Ranch from Shorthorn and Brahman genetics. The couple explained how their Angus cow herd expanded from just two cows in the 1980s to the 100 cows they run today on three Chester County farms. They are stewards of the land, caring for the soil health to maximize grass or hay production. They voluntarily had a nutrient management plan created for their farms, even though one was not needed, because manure is an excellent source of fertilizer for their grass and hay.
The students spent the afternoon walking through the farm and export facility, a unique value-added venture at this farm. The Fairbairns’ export facility brings in cattle from across the United States which will be shipped to another country. “As the Port of Wilmington is one of the largest ports around, the cattle come here to rest and get inspected by USDA veterinarians before being transported to the port and loaded onto boats specially suited for cattle transport.” Cattle that have been checked at the Fairbairns’ farm then go on to countries including Turkey, Kazakhstan, Egypt, and Russia. Cheryl noted one of the most interesting parts of owning the facility is meeting people and learning about agriculture all over the world.
The students are enrolled in Mr. Charles Graydus’ and Ms. Heidi Militana’s animal and plant science courses, and the field trip provided the students, who learned about beef animals in the classroom, with an opportunity to see exactly what care goes into raising livestock, from herd health to pasture management. “You can talk until you’re blue in the face, but for them to see it is a whole new world,” said Militana. Students added, “I liked seeing the bulls and how they work cows,” and “I learned about the weaning process,” which is when the almost-one-year-old calves are removed from their mother’s side to live separately and the cows can prepare to calve in the coming months.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Agriculture Partnership is a program of the Chester County Economic Development Council in collaboration with the Chester County Workforce Investment Board, with the assistance of the Chester County Intermediate Unit. The mission of the Southeastern PA Agriculture Partnership is to build the capacity of farmers and their supply-chain partners to meet the growing demand for local, fresh foods in the region through investment in business training and workforce development. The IP is funded in part by private sector contributions and a grant from the PA Department of Labor & Industry.
The Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) is a private, non-profit economic development organization promoting smart growth in Chester County and the surrounding region for over 50 years. The CCEDC provides proven financing solutions, cultivates workforce talent, leverages business partnerships, and fosters entrepreneurial collaboration. Together, with the support of the private and public sectors, CCEDC initiates, implements and innovates programs that improve the business community and enhance the quality of life in Chester County. For more information, visit our website, www.cceconomicdevelopment.com.
Caption: Thirty-one students studying animal and plant sciences at Octorara Area High School visited Lisnageer Farm in Coatesville as part of a career exploration showcase sponsored by CCRES and the Southeastern PA Agriculture Partnership, an initiative of the Chester County Economic Development Council.