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Arlington Heights High School students are FFA tour guides at Stock Show

FORT WORTH -- Arlington Heights High School sophomore Mary McBain gets a lot of "city kid" questions while walking around the Stock Show.

"Do brown cows make chocolate milk?"

"Why do you have to give the pigs a bath?"

"Do you have a cow that makes soda?"

"The soda question was definitely the weirdest one I've had," McBain said, laughing. "But they're really fascinated by all this here."

Most days, hundreds of kids file off school buses to catch a glimpse of chickens, pigs, goats, horses and more.

Keeping tabs on them is a highly coordinated undertaking in which FFA high school students serve as tour guides for the youngsters.

"Most of the children are several generations removed from farm life," said David Kercheval, the show's superintendent over the tours. "So this gives the kids the opportunity to learn a little about agriculture from students involved in it, and our FFA students learn about giving back to the community and how to step up as leaders."

On Friday, students from Arlington Heights were among the guides, teaching kids about cows and other tidbits.

McBain guided children through a barn and showed them cattle that FFA members have been raising.

Sagamore Hill Elementary student Jissel Cerrato squealed with excitement as she pointed to a calf keeping warm next to its mom.

"I've never seen one before," she said. "They're a lot bigger than I thought."

Having the only FFA group among Fort Worth's high schools, Arlington Heights has a special relationship with the show.

The show is working with the school district to expand the Heights livestock barn.

Teacher Cody Davenport "has done such a great job in growing that program that the barn is just over capacity," said Shanna Weaver, a show spokeswoman.

Davenport said two holding pens had to be built recently to accommodate more cattle being raised by students.

Officials expect that even more room will be needed as the district revamps the agriculture program through its new Gold Seal programs of choice efforts.

Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700

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