Spring break is a time when many high school students make college visits, and I was lucky enough to visit the University of Maryland (UMD) Campus Farm and learn about the equine studies program and meet the broodmares about to foal. My visit was graciously hosted by Dr. Amy Burk, an Associate Professor and Coordinator for the Equine Studies Program in the Animal and Avian Sciences Department at UMD. Dr. Burk is also member of the Maryland Horse Council’s Board of Directors.
Dr. Burk and her students took me to meet the broodmares.
pictured left to right: Holden, Cassie, Caroline Spieker, Ashley Mann, Runaway Pearl, and Dr. Amy Burk.
(photo courtesy of Holden Rafey)
According to The Department of Animal and Avian Sciences’ website:
“The Department of Animal and Avian Sciences (ANSC) Campus Farm is nestled in the middle of the College Park Campus adjacent to the ANSC building and the Comcast Center. The ANSC Campus Farm is considered to be the “jewel” of the department as it provides essential hands-on learning opportunities for our students and it serves as a showcase for the Animal Sciences discipline to all campus visitors.” (https://ansc.umd.edu/undergraduate/campus-farm)
The farm is a nice contrast to the tall concrete buildings that surround it, and the various animals that inhabit it draw the attention of many passersby pleasantly surprised to see horses and sheep happily grazing away in the middle of a crowded college campus.
(photo by Holden Rafey)
The farm is home to a variety of animals including horses, sheep, and sometimes cows and pigs. But some of the most special animals at UMD are the broodmares. The breeding program that started up again in 2013 after shutting down in the late 1980s has become very successful. The first foal born on the campus in nearly 30 years, Diamondback Fire, was born in March 2013 and sold for $9,000. Diamondback Fire even won his first race in September 2015. The two broodmares currently on the campus farm are Daylight Lassie (Cassie) and Runaway Pearl. After a week of foal watch, Cassie finally foaled around 2:00 am on April 1, 2016. This is her fourth foal while in the program, all of which have been colts. The other broodmare on the farm, Runaway Pearl, had her foal on April 2. The colt is by Contucci, and is the first Warmblood/Thoroughbred cross bred in the program.
While I was there, I also had the opportunity to talk to some students involved with the farm, including Ashley Mann. Ashley grew up on a cattle farm in Carroll County, and she is a senior majoring in animal care and management. Ashley commented on the hands-on opportunities the farm provides as well as the opportunities it has for students unfamiliar with agriculture.
“I have learned a lot just from working around the animals and the campus barn. When you learn something fascinating, it tends to stick with you for a long time. If there's one thing that prides me, it's working with students regardless of their background with agriculture,” Ashley said.
You can come visit the farm yourself on April 30th for Maryland Day. According to the Maryland Day website: “You’ll find it all at the University of Maryland’s one-day open house featuring family-friendly and interactive events. Come explore our world of Fearless Ideas and see all that we do for our community, the state and the world.” You can browse the website for the events that interest you and create a customized itinerary of the events you are interested in attending. One of the many areas is “Ag Day Avenue,” where visitors can see lots of great things including a livestock show and interactive farm and educational exhibits. Please visit http://www.marylandday.umd.edu for details.
(image from http://www.marylandday.umd.edu)
So plan to come to Maryland Day and make your own visit to the Campus Farm - you may even get to meet the foals!
ABOUT OUR BLOGGER:
My name is Holden Rafey, and I am honored to be serving as the Maryland Horse Council’s Youth Correspondent. As the MHC Youth Correspondent, I will be posting monthly to this blog about horse-related topics in the state of Maryland to give a youth perspective and share information on topics of interest to MHC youth members. I live in Montgomery County and attend Walter Johnson High School, where I play softball and field hockey. My equestrian trainer is Melinda Cohen, and I ride at her barn, Dream Catcher Farm, in Frederick County. In addition to being the Youth Correspondent for the MHC, I am also serving on the Washington International Horse Show Junior Committee and loved seeing lots of Maryland barns represented at Barn Night!