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4-H Field Day offers more than just a trip to the farm

LINVILLE -

Despite a world of activities offered at Tuesday's Conservation/4-H Field Day, 11-year-old Bobby Bolen had his sights set on just one.

"I'm looking forward to fishing, and just having fun," Bolen said.

The day would be filled with lots of talk about the wonders of nature, but Bobby wasn't looking to think too deeply about his favorite pastime.

"It's just for fun, fishing's just for fun, that's the point," Bolen said. "You don't have to keep them, you don't have to let them go, really."

Fun was the order of the day during the event at the Herrell family farm, near the Lawrence Soil and Water Conservation District, which helped put on the event.

The children who attended started their day by making concrete garden stones adorned with seashells and marbles to be left to dry while a hayride whisked them off to the Linville farm.

Carrie Yaniko, education coordinator for the Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District, said that aside from the fun, they hope the children learn a few things from the field trip.

"We just want to get the kids involved with more things that are outdoors and in nature," Yaniko said.

"It's fun because there's some of the kids who haven't gotten to go fishing, or maybe just walk through nature and identify trees, or have someone show them 'that's poison ivy, don't touch it,' just things they may not have learned in school."

Of course, when things as unpredictable as children and nature are put together there are bound to be some surprises.

"Last year we had a little girl who found a turtle on our nature hike. She thought that was the greatest thing," Yaniko said. "When it came out of its shell it almost shocked her to death."

After a nature hike, a similar surprise was sprung on the children this year, as a large, black snake slipped near the cabin where the children were gathered.

Not one to let his friends be threatened on his own property, 9-year-old Alec Herrell took up a hatchet and put a swift end to the slithering reptile, which received cheers of delight from the children.

"Yeah, I was afraid. I was shaking like a leaf," said Herrell with a nervous smile. "But I killed it. I almost did it yesterday, too."

After that bit of adventure, a fire was started and the children were allowed to cook their own meals. The menu did not, as one might guess, include snake chips,

just hot dogs.

With full bellies, and a welcome breeze to cool the day, Bobby Bolen finally got to take up his rod and get some fishing done.

Surprisingly, the children didn't seem as enthused about the great outdoors as they were about some of the great friendships that had formed.

When asked what was his favorite part of the day, 10-year-old Dylan Carpenter takes a moment to think before pointing at young Trent Thacker and saying, "Being with him."

Thacker didn't need quite as long to decide that being with Dylan was his favorite part, too.