Installer Gives Back by Teaching Kids About Rural Life

Sharing agricultural history is a mission for the owners of Black Mountain Excavating

Installer Gives Back by Teaching Kids About Rural Life

The Bill Brown family of Payson, Arizona, believes youngsters have no idea where their food comes from. “Schools aren’t teaching agricultural history or the field-to-market supply chain,” says son Willie Brown, who runs the family business, Black Mountain Excavating, which installs, repairs and inspects septic systems in northern Gila County.

“My stepmom, Lori, decided to somehow connect children to the vital role agriculture plays in everyday life.” In 2009, Lori Brown approached Lani Hall, then with the Tonto Natural Resource Conservation District in Payson, to develop an agricultural awareness program. Today, it incorporates six classroom lessons for fourth-grade students: farming and agriculture, ranching (taught by Brown), cotton, mining, poultry science, and recycling.

In spring 2010, Payson Elementary School helped develop a pilot field day at the Browns’ H-4 Ranch in Tonto Basin. Now a three-day event in May, AG DAZE draws 600 to 800 fourth-graders, their teachers and aides from 10 schools in the Payson, Globe, Miami, Pine, Tonto Basin and Young Unified School Districts.

“We have Future Farmers of America and 4-H volunteers helping with setup before the school buses arrive,” Willie Brown says. “Each day begins with the Pledge of Allegiance; then we take the kids to the corral and rope, brand and vaccinate some of this year’s calves.” (The family runs 300 head of Angus cattle on a government lease in the Tonto National Forest.)

Students then rotate through different stations including branding their initials on wood for a souvenir, panning for gold in a kiddie pool, planting flowers and learning how to rope. “They also race on stick horses through an obstacle course and on tricycle tractors towing little wagons,” Brown says. “All the kids like the petting zoo and the horse-drawn wagon rides.

“In 2015, it rained for two days,” Brown says. “The kids were soaked, but they still had a great time.”

To learn more about Black Mountain Excavating, read the full profile in the March issue of Onsite Installer


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