TRAFALGAR, Ind. — A new barn sits in the field behind Indian Creek High School. Students walk back to animal science class for a hands-on education at the Creek Cattle Company.
"It's not every day that you're like, 'Alright class, let's go out to the barn. Let's go see the calves,'" said sophomore Olivia Perry, who had before-school duty to feed the program's four cattle on a snowy April morning.
Waylon and Elvis are the first two feeder calves being raised and cared for by the students in this farm to cafeteria operation. They weigh about 600 pounds each now. They hopefully will double their weight before going to market this summer. The beef produced will be served at school.
"You have the people that are like, 'You're eating your cows?' Well, right. You're always eating somebody's cow," Perry said. "So, it's really cool for you to just be able to see the whole entire process from start to finish."
Creek Cattle Company started with an idea three years ago. Through fundraising and donations, the program welcomed the first class of three cows at Thanksgiving.
The program grew when Mrs. J unexpectedly gave birth to a calf in March. She will be named in a school fundraising contest.
"I think it's absolutely amazing being here from the beginning and then seeing it all come to fruition," said senior Delaney Heminger. "I think it's pretty amazing and knowing that I'm a senior this year, and I've laid out the grounds for an amazing opportunity for educational value."
Outside of class, students sign up to come before and after school to feed and care for the cattle.
"Some things I think that are really important to understand about the process of like raising this beef for everybody to eat is how much we really care about the animals and how we want to make sure that they're as healthy as can be," said senior Dustyn Parr. "So, if these animals aren't healthy and happy, they're not going to produce the quality meat that you guys want."
Creek Cattle Company will take its first two feeder cows to market in July, becoming the only high school in central Indiana with a farm to cafeteria program.
"There are plenty of people in the world who think that milk and meat come from the grocery store and chocolate milk comes from brown cows and we we're here to fight that and to teach where your food comes from," said Joe Dunn, Indian Creek High School agriculture teacher and advisor for the Creek Cattle Company.
About 100 students are in three animal science classes. Dunn said about half the students do not have any experience with farm animals. The agriculture program at Indian Creek High School also plants row crops on school property and raises money from the harvest.