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Vt. summer camp focuses on farming - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. summer camp focuses on farming

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RANDOLPH, Vt. -

Owen Manley of Milton is used to being on a farm.

"We live on a dairy farm, but there's no cows anymore. We just hay and my grandpa does a lot of the sugaring," said Manley, 17.

He's one of 14 high school students at the Governor's Institutes of Vermont summer program Farms, Food and Your Future at Vermont Technical College. Manley is hoping to revitalize his family farm one day.

"It's given me a lot of perspective of all the little things that go into farming," he said. "It's all those little things that add up to the hard work of farming."

"We're here to get them excited about agriculture and dairy farming in general," said Chris Dutton, a professor of agriculture at VTC.

The one-week intense learning program focuses on food, agriculture and sustainability.

"Today we're going to track carbon entirely around the food system," Dutton said.

Students learn the science behind farming with a hands-on approach, learning soil science and the perfect feed mix for cows.

"They're amazing," Dutton said. "They're really sharp; they're getting it."

Reporter Gina Bullard: Do you think you'll pay more attention in chemistry class now?

Owen Manley: I think so; it pertains to real life now.

As part of the $750 price tag, the students also stay on campus at VTC and get a little taste of the college experience.

Not all of these kids want to work on a farm, but teachers say they are still learning valuable lessons.

"One farmer feeds 155 people, so we need as much representation as we can if we're going to keep our food system making any kind of sense," Dutton said.

"I don't think I'd want to be a farmer, but there could be another place in the food industry for me," said Serena Kent, a senior at Lamoille Union High School.

Manley now has ideas he'll bring back to his family farm, like diversifying with growing vegetables and raising beef.

"I've already gotten inspiration out of this, so I hope it sparks even more to me taking over that farm someday," he said.

Learning the hard work it takes to make farming and food work.

There are several other Governor's Institutes camps in a variety of fields. Click here to learn more about them.

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