Ken Moncrief was instrumental in helping Ceres Unified School District to establish the student farm so it was fitting that the Ceres School Board named the facility in honor of the retiring educator.
Following the April 7 board action, over 200 persons attended a ceremony held last week to formally rename the Farm the Ken Moncrief Agriculture Center behind Hidahl Elementary School at 2351 E. Redwood Road.
Among those who attended the April 12 dedication ceremony, were Ceres Mayor Javier Lopez, CUSD Supt. Denise Wickham, board trustees Betty Davis, Lourdes Perez and Valli Wigt, and former trustee Jim Kinard.
“It’s very humbling to be recognized in such a way,” said Moncrief, 58, who will be retiring at the end of the school year. “A whole army of people made this place happen. My role was to lead the charge. I know what we’re doing is good for kids. That’s what’s special about it.”
Spearheaded by Moncrief, CUSD broke ground on the school farm during the 2009-10 school year.
The district provided 6.5 acres of land, which had a value of $100,000 at the time, for the farm and assistance in financing for a tractor that cost $25,000.
Moncrief installed shingles on the 3,000-square-foot building used for instruction, food processing and storage. Expansion included adding a swine barn, a large livestock building and a greenhouse.
The farm allows students to plant, tend and harvest row crops, fruits and vegetables for the district’s Child Nutrition Department.
“It’s really special to work for a district that will support this hands-on-style of learning,” said Moncrief. “I really believe it’s the premier ag farm in the entire state.”
Moncrief’s career with CUSD spans 34 years as a teacher at both Ceres High and Central Valley high schools.
“It’s the only job I’ve had,” he said. “I love what I do. The whole reason I’ve been here this long is because of the people and experiences with kids. But I felt it was time to do something new. My wife and I are moving to Oregon in July. Our daughter is up there. She has a daughter on the way.”
Moncrief was named the Ceres Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Man of the Year in 2014.