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Third-graders get up close look at farms
• Annual Farm to Factory Tour held at CHS
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Sam Vaughn Elementary School third-graders Amoni Burrise, Sophia Powers and Abby Powers express a variety of reactions to worms dug out of a compost pile at Friday’s Farm to Factory Tour. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Many youngsters, even in a relatively rural city like Ceres, have little understanding that food comes from someplace other than a store. So to help in their education of agriculture, Ceres High School put on a special day of Farm to Factory Tour Friday.

Approximately 1,000 third-graders from Ceres elementary schools were bussed to CHS where they rotated through stations manned by students and adults who told them about crops, animals and careers. Students saw and heard about beef cattle, sheep and draft horses, and were allowed to dig for worms, hammer nails into wood and watch robotics demonstrations. The event allowed Ceres to showcase locally grown products, such as dairy and almonds.

Students also were able to see tractors and other farm implements.

Ceres High FFA student Alexia De Los-Reyes asked if it was students’ first time to see a pig and many hands went up. She explained that pigs roll in the mud to cool themselves absent a perspiration system. Alexia also made a point to speak to a pig’s high level of intelligence. Students found it interesting that pigs have twice the sense of smell that humans do.

“Their sense of smell is very strong,” said De Los-Reyes, who had sleepy 10-week-old pigs at her feet. “And they’re very, very smart.”

She explained that the pigs are raised by FFA students to be shown and sold at the annual Stanislaus County Fair.

In the goat corral, Kyli Bickley and Alexis Alvarez told dispensed facts about goats and even carried the animals close to the fence so students could feel their coarse hair.

“This is awesome,” said teacher Carol Goerhing, a teacher at Carroll Fowler. “I was born and raised on a grape farm and I think this is one of the absolute best things.”

School Board Trustee Valli Wigt, who also has a strong background in agriculture in the Westport area, came down to tour the activities with Ceres High School Vice Principal Ed Pelfrey.

“This event is a perfect opportunity for the kids to see different careers, to see different manufacturing, the robots and to know where their food comes from,” said Wigt (pronounced White). “Without events like this I don’t think the kids would really know about different animals and stuff.”

Vendors like Universal Technical Institute told about their products. The city of Ceres displayed information on water conservation and the importance of not polluting storm drain water.

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.

Inside one classroom, third-graders were given a puppet show which highlighted water safety and stressing the importance of staying out of irrigation canals in the Valley.

In the petting zoo area contained by walls of baled hay, FFA members educated students about their animals. Emily Silva held rabbit “Shadow” being raised for the fair and Katye Hood showed how holding a chicken upside down helped to calm it around the students. 

Students also were allowed to see the solar projects of the Ceres High Manufacturing Production and Green Energy Academy.

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Ceres High School FFA student Katye Hood holds a chicken for adoring third-graders. - photo by Jeff Benziger
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Ceres High School FFA student Emily Silva holds a rabbit for adoring third-graders. - photo by Jeff Benziger