Summer, the cow mom-to-be, enjoys her baby shower

Thursday, September 14, 2017 0 Comments

Summer, the cow mom-to-be, enjoys her baby shower

 

Summer, the five-year-old cow who calls Hialeah Gardens Middle School home, was wearing a “mom-to-be” party hat while students, parents, and faculty celebrated her baby shower on school grounds in early September. 

Hialeah Gardens Middle School (HGMS) houses one of the few agriscience programs in Miami-Dade County wherein students in sixth through eighth grade learn about and care for a host of farm animals including Summer who has been with the school since she was a 35 pound calf. She was brought to the school in principal Maritza Jimenez’s minivan years ago inside a dog kennel, though has since grown thrice the size she once was and seems to act more human than cow. 

“When we left her with the breeder he was concerned since she wasn’t eating with the other cows,” said agriscience program director Yvette Rodriguez. “Then she finally ate, but only by him, not by the other cows. He said he’s never seen anything like it – a cow who doesn’t know she’s a cow.”

Summer’s baby shower was decorated with posters detailing cow facts and streamers that read ‘Boy or Girl.’ Summer is due any day now so a trainer and on-call vet are at the ready for a delivery on school grounds. Parents and students that attended were amused by the party, many conversing about how they couldn’t believe they were at a baby shower for a cow.

Summer is one of the residents of ‘Almosta Farm’ that has housed ducks, quails, lambs, guinea pigs, and a pig. The agriscience program trains young students on topics like genetics, biology, animal care, and even philosophy as students grapple within the three year program to come to terms with animals being sold at market for food. 

Every Friday students do hands-on work on Almosta Farm by maintaining the grounds and caring for the animals. They are trained to be cognizant of distress in animals so they can avoid a moody Summer and they also learn how to administer subcutaneous injections. 

Two students from the inaugural year of the agriscience program were accepted to the University of Florida, one in the school’s veterinary track and the other is pursuing studies in cardiothoracic surgery. Both students learned about their love for science while at HGMS. Students from following class years have moved on to the middle school’s feeder pattern school, Hialeah Gardens High School, where completion of the agriscience program immediately transfers them into the honors veterinary program where they graduate with a vet assistant certification. 

“As a middle school we don’t receive as much funding from the district as high schools do so a lot of our funding for the program comes from fundraising and donations,” said Rodriguez. “My students are about to receive boxes of chocolate which they’ll sell for funding and we receive donations as well like the trailer donated by Headquarter Toyota for us to transport Summer to competitions.”

Headquarter Toyota found the trailer online and completely rebuilt it with the mechanics in its body shop donating their labor for the school. They also wrapped it in a decal made from the winning painting from a student, Brian Sanchez, to depict the agriscience program. Headquarter Toyota is the school’s EESAC Member Business Partner and part of the school’s Dade Partners program. 

The district funding, school fundraisers, and donations have been enough to keep the program afloat for the last several years and students have made strides in competitions often qualifying for district and state levels. The students have also qualified for national levels, however have never attended due to a lack of funding.

“I tell my kids that the most important thing is that they know they can do it,” said Rodriguez. “They have the skills and the talent to make it to nationals and even if we can’t attend that’s still an accomplishment.”

Almosta Farm will soon welcome its newest addition with Summer’s calf within the following weeks. While there is no word yet on whether it will be a male or a female, principal Jimenez said with a laugh “I do hope it’s a girl!”

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