By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Third-graders get glimpse of ag
Most youngsters, even in a relatively rural city like Ceres, have no understanding that food comes from someplace other than a store. So to help in their education of agriculture, the Ceres High School chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA) put on a special day of Farm Tour demonstrations Wednesday.

Approximately 400 students from six elementary schools in Ceres were bussed to CHS where they rotated through stations manned by students who told them about crops or animals. At his station, Bastiaan Weststeyn educated students about one of the area's biggest crops, almonds. He told them that there are 33 varieties of almond trees but that only five are common to the Ceres area.

The California Dairy Council brought a brown Jersey cow and a calf and showed how the procedure for milking.

Students had the chance to put on a welding helmet in the ag shop and hear how farms use welds on equipment.

Cherise Azevedo spoke about cherries and how they are grown on trees after they blossom. She substituted cherry blossoms for almond blossoms since cherries come later in spring.

"They really like the pigs and draft horses," said Carson Henley, president of the Ceres FFA chapter.

The event brought double the amount of students that turned out in 2008. Ag instructor Brian Mortensen said the lessons came in handy since Ceres third-graders are soon to undergo a social studies standard unit of Food to Market.

Kathy Weststeyn, a second grade teacher from Walter White School, more than appreciated the effort of the approximately 40 FFA members to put in over 20 hours of work each to pull off the event.

"I'm impressed with their sense of responsibility and their lessons," said Weststeyn, the daughter of the late Henry Voss who was the state director of Food and Agriculture from1990 to 1995.

"These kids don't know where food actually comes from and how people have to work to get food to the markets," said Weststeyn.

She said her father started the Ag in the Classroom program to educate an increasingly urban student population. Voss came upon the idea after hearing one city teacher pointed out to her students that "there's a lamb - that's where cotton comes from."

Mortsensen said that National FFA Week was celebrated in February but he put off the Farm Tour until the first week in March.

The event was also good for his students, he said.

"They get to interact with the younger generation," said Mortensen, "and teach them stuff that not even my high school students don't know."