Farm Queen to teach urban folks about milk and farmland

September 05, 1993|By Karin Remesch | Karin Remesch,Contributing Writer

Kristin Archer, Maryland's 1993 Farm Queen, wants to make sure that children know that milk comes from cows -- not from plastic containers in grocery stores.

And she plans to spend her one-year reign educating city dwellers on the importance of agricultural preservation.

"We need to save the farm," said the 17-year old Pylesville resident who was crowned the state's Farm Queen during ceremonies last Sunday at the Maryland State Fair. "Only 2 percent of the American population are farmers, but they feed 98 percent of our population."

Kristin hopes to gain more respect for agriculture by meeting members of the public, especially young people, and talking to them about farming.

She's quite a farmhand, having grown up on her family's 525-acre dairy and grain farm. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. and milking more than 100 cows has become routine. So has feeding and caring for cows and calves, selecting sires for breeding, unloading hay and straw, scraping and cleaning up, driving tractors and preparing show cows for contests.

"I work on the farm wherever I'm needed -- no questions asked," Kristin says.

Kristin also works part time at a convenience store.

And, while attending North Harford High -- she graduated this year -- she was an honor student, all-county athlete, student government representative, class officer, member of the prom court and member of numerous school clubs. Involvement in 4-H and dairy clubs, showing Holsteins and serving as the 1992-1993 Baltimore/Harford County Dairy Princess add to her list of accomplishments.

She hopes to keep up her hectic schedule while attending Harford Community College this fall on field hockey and lacrosse grants.

And, she says, she'll still find plenty of time to fulfill her responsibilities as Maryland's Farm Queen.

She hopes that one of her first duties will be to meet with members of the Harford County Board of Education to discuss the importance of incorporating agriculture into the classroom curriculum.

"Learning about farming is important at all age levels," says Kristin. She recalls meeting a group of young children who had no idea that cows provide milk. "They actually believed milk came from plastic containers in grocery stores."

But, she says, it's really no surprise that many children are ignorant of life on the farm.

"It used to be that everyone at least had an aunt or uncle on the farm that they could visit, but today the closest they get to a farm is usually from a car window," says Kristin. She hopes that field trips to farms will become part of classroom activities.

Kristin hopes to be able to meet with school Superintendent Ray R. Keech to persuade him to delay the start of the school year until after the Maryland State Fair.

For the first time, Harford County schools opened before Labor Day this year, overlapping with the fair and forcing 4-H Club and Future Farmers of America members to choose between attending school or participating in the fair.

"4-H is a very educational experience, and members prepare all year to show off their hard work at the fair. They shouldn't have to make a choice between school and the fair," says Kristin.

Before setting out on her year-long crusade to promote farming, Kristin still has two days left reigning at the State Fair, which runs through tomorrow at the fairgrounds in Timonium.

Wearing her crown and Farm Queen sash, she greets visitors, meets dignitaries, hands out ribbons and makes sure that she visits the various exhibit halls daily, lending a helping hand wherever needed.

In last Sunday's contest, Kristin was chosen from among 23 contestants for the state title. Judging was based primarily on agricultural knowledge and experience and civic involvement. Along with the crown, the winner received scholarship and cash awards totaling $4,000.

"I'm still stunned I won," says Kristin, her blue-green eyes sparkling.

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