Kids will learn about livestock, farming in Columbia

Thursday, June 28, 2007 | 2:04 p.m. CDT; updated 5:57 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The MFA Foundation has given $125,000 to the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute to use toward the construction of a Children’s Barn at the Jefferson Farm & Gardens facility. Jefferson Farm & Gardens, set to open in the fall of 2008, is an educational facility in southeast Columbia.

The Children’s Barn will recreate a natural farm environment, complete with common Missouri farm livestock, such as cows and horses, and a staff of animal youth educators to help visitors better understand how Midwestern farms operate.

“Our goal with the Children’s Barn is to help familiarize children and the general public with the various types of livestock found on Missouri farms,” said Rob Myers, executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute. “We’ll also talk about the science of producing farm animals, such as the different types of food given to farm animals to make sure they have proper nutrition.”

Roughly 30,000 people are expected to come through the farm in its first year, with 10,000 of them being children with either their families or school groups, said Jennifer Smith, a communications specialist for the Institute.

Though the barn’s namesake makes children its focus, the Children’s Barn won’t be limited to youth interest.

“We will target all audiences, but kids in particular will really enjoy the interaction. That’s why we named the area for the kids,” Smith said.

The Jefferson Farm & Gardens facility is located on New Haven Road, one mile east of U.S. 63.

The total cost for the farm is $3.4 million dollars.

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