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Merced County students get farm experience at FARM2U

Golden Valley High School freshman Josh Heupel, left, and junior Tara Drake, right, teach Donn B. Chenoweth Elementary School students about goats during the annual FARM2U Day presented by the Merced County Farm Bureau at the Merced County Fairgrounds in Merced, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. The event is held to educate area students about how their food is produced in Merced County.
Golden Valley High School freshman Josh Heupel, left, and junior Tara Drake, right, teach Donn B. Chenoweth Elementary School students about goats during the annual FARM2U Day presented by the Merced County Farm Bureau at the Merced County Fairgrounds in Merced, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. The event is held to educate area students about how their food is produced in Merced County. akuhn@mercedsunstar.com

Third-grade students Merced County gathered at the county fairgrounds on Thursday to learn about all things agriculture.

The Merced County Farm Bureau hosted its fourth annual FARM2U Day, with 90 presenters teaching children where their food comes from. More than 3,000 students, teachers and parents spent the day petting and feeding livestock, sampling grapes, learning to rope and more.

“FARM2U gives us in agriculture hope that the community will realize what they have at their backdoor and how that advantage can be used to raise healthy students,” said Amanda Priest, executive director of the Farm Bureau.

Carmen Gonzalez, a third-grade teacher from Rivera Elementary in Merced, said the event provides an experience that students can connect with in the classroom. “To be able to see, feel and touch – what better way is there to learn?” she said.

As her students were led by Gary Ramos, a team roper from Los Banos, in roping drills, Gonzalez noted the excitement in their eyes.

“They see this on TV and don’t have a clue what’s going on,” Ramos said. “You’ve got to learn somewhere.”

Priest said the Farm Bureau sends teachers curriculum prior to the event so they can implement the agriculture information into their lessons. Fernanda Whitfield, a teacher at Plainsburg Elementary, planned to have her students write reports about what they learned.

Aiden Galaviz, a third-grader at Miano Elementary in Los Banos, said the most interesting thing he learned was about sweet potatoes. “If they’re not really good, they give them to the cows,” he said.

Some high school students participated as well. Five students from Atwater High’s Future Farmers of America program taught the younger students about goats, focusing on their digestive system and goat milk.

“Our main message to the kids is to treat animals well,” said Andrew Skidmore, a senior. “Animals aren’t harmful. They’re nice. We treat them with respect, and that’s how we get milk.”

Emma Reyes, also an Atwater senior, said most of the students didn’t realize milk isn’t automatically cold. “They were surprised that the milk is originally hot,” she said. “Because when you drink it, it’s cold.”

“We’re just trying to build a bond and teach how that milk gets on your table,” Skidmore said.

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