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Princeton High animal science program offers hands-on experience

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PRINCETON­ — Princeton High School animal science teacher Elizabeth Parker says the sheep and miniature horse bring joy to her students.

“The kids are very happy to see these animals,” said Parker. “They enjoy being outside and this gives them an outlet.”

The small farm is located off the school’s main campus near the Hardee’s restaurant.

The program, said Parker, has three purposes: teach students about animal care, learn about their physiology and explore possible agriculture-related careers.

Parker said she’s always wanted to be an ag instructor. She is in her second year at the high school and taught for one year in the middle school’s program.

“I grew up on a small family farm in Four Oaks, we always had horses and cattle,” said Parker. “I went to Johnston Community College, earned a B.S. degree in agriculture education at the University of Mount Olive and came straight to Princeton.”

Parker teaches two Animal Science I classes and one Animal Science II class and has a total of roughly 80 students each day.

“Students learn how to care for animals, how to handle their basic medical needs,” said Parker. “The advanced students can provide routine care and inoculations. They develop management skills, learn about nutrition and have skills they can take back home.”

The farm has a miniature horse named Popcorn who was donated two weeks ago by Parker’s friends. Four sheep were purchased.

Clay Beasley is a senior. His family owns the Martin Farm in Princeton. He said he plans to attend North Carolina State University and become an ag teacher.

“I’ve always known this is what I wanted to do,” Clay said. “I love agriculture, all my life has been centered around it. I want to help develop future generations of farmers.”

Sophomore Nathan Daughtry, who lives in the Brogden community, said his area is filled with farms and he loves to volunteer on them. Like Clay, Nathan said he’d like to attend N.C. State and study agricultural education.

Other Johnston County high schools have farm science programs. This is the first year Princeton has been permitted to have animals.

“We’re in the planning phases,” said Parker. “Our administration has been very supportive of the program.”