During the public comment period at Monday night’s Floyd County School Board meeting, advocates on both sides of an issue that has recently divided Floyd County addressed the board.
Caroline Lefebvre was joined by her 10-year-old daughter at the podium to protest a young calf being kept in an outdoor pen at Floyd County High School, arguing that it wasn’t consistent with character education that teaches respect, empathy and compassion.
Prior to Monday’s meeting, Lefebvre had sent a letter to School Board Chairman James Ingram requesting that the calf, which is part of the high school’s agricultural education program, be re-homed at an animal sanctuary. Lefebvre also launched an online petition that has garnered more than 400 signatures. The petition states,
“Floyd County High School is keeping a calf and it has no place to hide from predators or the weather.”
The petition also claims that the shelter provided is not “waterproof.” It continues, “The calf is not in a natural herd and is missing out on much-needed socialization with its own kind.”
Handmade signs urging local residents to attend the School Board meeting could be found in town on Monday, with one stating “Animals have rights,” and calling on officials to “free the calf.” However, folks on the other side of the issue have defended students’ care for the calf, as well as the overall value of the agricultural program.
Following Lefebvre’s remarks Monday night, Aleigha Gray, a student officer from the high school’s chapter of Future Farmers of America, said she and her peers were “upset” by criticism of agricultural program. She said as a result of helping to raise and care for the calf, she has learned skills that could serve her in a future career. Students have learned about “vaccinations, how to bottle-feed a calf,” and many have “conquered their fear of cattle,” she said.
Gray said the cow is well cared-for and will be given shelter and blankets during an upcoming forecasted cold spell. Someone at the school will also take the cow home with them during winter break, she explained. Another online petition was circulated on social media early this week in response to the original, titled “Keep the calf.” The petition, started by student Leah Wright, says, “The adults of Floyd don’t know that our agriculture program/classes clean our calf’s habitat. We keep her fed and watered, they always make sure she won’t get hurt.” The response petition currently has about 1,200 signatures.
The School Board is not required to respond to public comments, and did not indicate during its open meeting whether it would address the issue in the future.