Farm Day Experience

February 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm Leave a comment

Thanks to Mary Ann Hooker for telling us about the annual Farm Day Experience held in Salinas!  It’s the largest program of its type in the US to teach kids about agriculture.  Mary Ann’s chapter, the Gonzales Young Farmers, donated their time and services to feed the volunteers that take the children around to all of the exhibits and displays.  You can see some of her photos from the event below, as well as read the article from the Monterey Herald!

Local Sausage Makers

Local Sausage Makers

The comments Mary Ann heard while taking this pic with the ducklings was "It TICKLES!!!" {A side note - the duck breeder is her neighbor}

Some of the other birds John brought with him

From the Monterey Herald:

One of the first things third-graders learned in the annual Farm Day Experience in Salinas on Thursday was that meat doesn’t just come neatly wrapped from supermarkets.

For Laura Ortiz, a student at Loma Vista Elementary School, feeding an artichoke to a huge dairy cow was a highlight.

“I got licked on my hand by that cow,” the wide-eyed girl said.

Farm Day Experience co-organizer Claudia A. Smith agreed that seeing farm animals up close is the best way to teach about agriculture.

“It’s important because agriculture helps drive our local economy,” she noted. “Monterey County is the salad bowl of the entire country. Some of the kids don’t know it until they come here.”

About 3,000 students from Salinas-area schools were at the event, held at the Growers Cooling industrial complex at the south end of the city on Growers Street. The event was sponsored by Monterey County Agricultural Education Inc., a nonprofit representing the local farming industry. More than 700 volunteers take part.

John Metzer of Metzer Farms, a poultry business near Chualar, handed out baby ducks for children to hold, to the students’ delight.

“I run a hatchery,” he said. “Naturally, for the kids it’s a thrill if they can hold the baby ducks, so I’ve got an easy job here.”

He displayed the many types of eggs found in the hatchery.

Marji Coe, a retired home school teacher who lives in Prunedale, said the two 10-week-old pigs she was exhibiting would be used for food and not as pets, which drew a troubled, collective groan from the children.

“Did you know that pigs have been used for meat for 9,000 years, longer than any other animal?” she told the third-graders.

Ray Vasquez, 9, a student at Montessori School in Salinas, said his favorite part of the program was seeing the sheep dogs.

“I might want to be a farmer,” he said.

Tori Mount, a student at North Monterey County High School in Castroville, and her sister, Sami Mount, 9, talked to children about the animals they raise as part of 4-H, an agricultural youth organization with a title that stands for head, heart, hands and health.

“The people in 4-H are fun and it’s the learning aspect I like,” Tori said. “I plan to go to Cal Poly and become a veterinarian.”

Jim Conn, sales manager of Quinn Co. in Salinas, a Caterpillar heavy equipment firm, showed the children the Challenger MY 865C diesel-powered 520-horsepower tractor. The huge machine has belt-powered wheels and an attachment towed behind that can dig a furrow 32 inches deep.

“This tractor weighs about 60,000 pounds and costs about $450,000,” he said.

Also on hand was a Bell-47 helicopter used in agricultural spraying and piloted by Allan Carter of King City.

Other attractions included a Monterey County Sheriff’s horse search and rescue unit and a hay-squeezing machine.

A third-grader at Loma Vista School, Thaicy Martinez said the highlight for her was meeting a chicken.

“Because he was friendly to me,” she said.

Silvia Barbosa, a third-grade bilingual teacher at Los Padres Elementary School in Salinas, said she enjoys attending the Farm Day Experience every year.

“It’s fun because the kids really get hands-on,” she said.

In addition to Thursday’s event for Salinas-area schools, Farm Day Experience is held in October for Monterey schools and in March for those in Salinas Valley.

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