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Third-graders see ag up close
Erica Miranda and Kevin Partida
Ceres High agriculture student Erica Miranda holds a fainting goat with a fascinated third-grader Kevin Partida. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Approximately 2,000 Ceres students got an up-close look at barnyard animals and manufacturing industry jobs on Friday when the farm came to the city - specifically the Ceres High School campus.

Third-graders from all Ceres schools were bussed to Ceres High School's annual Farm to Factory Tour to view robotics demonstrations, get close to cows, draft horses, goats, sheep, rabbits and chickens, and hear about almond production and career information. In the afternoon Ceres High students were rotated through the exhibits.

Ceres High junior Sierra Mote helped organize fellow FFA members and the small animals in the petting zoo pen.

"I love it," said Mote. "It's what I look forward to every school year because we get to have all these animals here. Not only does it help us learn how to handle and care for these animals but it also helps us to teach other kids how to do it. The highlight of it is when these little kids come in. They're happy. They're excited. I saw a girl cry last year because she got to hold a chick."

The junior co-chairs the FFA small animals unit and will head it next year.

The event was staged on an area behind the Phil de la Porte Gymnasium. Dominating the blacktop was a large $750,000 John Deere 8800 Forage Harvester loaned out by Belkorp Ag of south Modesto. Garton Tractor brought out a Kubota tractor and Flory Industries demonstrated some of their new almond shakers and equipment models and best practices.

The Almond Board of California spent time before handing out almond samples talking about almond production facts. Steve Dacuyan of Select Harvest quizzed students about their knowledge of almonds, and then outlined how a tree produces about 50 pounds of almonds each season. With 142 trees fitting on an acre, he said almond yields from an acre equal about 7,100 pounds annually.

The event also allowed CHS to introduce project to students of the Manufacturing Production & Green Technology (MPGT) Academy. Manufacturing students demonstrated how 3-D printers work after a Bulldog was designed on the computer.

Students watched a display of torch welding and some got a chance to pound nails into a board and use an portable screwdriver.

Tim Holveck, owner of the Denair-based Rolling H Carriage Co., brought along draft horses. He explained how the large horses are cared for and all about various items of tack.

Although they were the smallest animal on display, the worms inhabiting a worm bin courtesy of Shane Parson's ranch drew student interest. The word vermiculture may have been a new one learned Friday; it is the process of using worms to decompose organic food waste, turning the waste into a nutrient-rich material capable of supplying necessary nutrients to help sustain plant growth.

Also at the event were representatives of the city of Ceres who handed out recycling and water conservation brochures. Other businesses and agencies on hand were Frito Lay, Kohl's Distribution Center, California Department of Water Resources, the California Department of Boating and Waterways and Stanislaus Farm Supply.

The day started out with Ceres High agriculture and Manufacturing Academy students attending a broadcast by KAT Country with disk jockey "Jungle" Jim Wells, a 1996 CHS grad, interviewing teacher Chris Van Meter. That broadcast will be aired this Friday.