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Animals are big hit during Great Valley School Ag Day

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Animals are big hit during Great Valley School Ag Day

Leanna Hinkston of the Weston Ranch High chapter of FFA displays a sheep from the school farm.

VINCE REMBULAT / The Bulletin/

POSTED May 8, 2017 12:41 a.m.

It’s the animals that students at Great Valley Elementary School enjoy most about Ag Day.

That certainly was the case for Leanna Hinkston, who had fond memories of this special agricultural event featuring multiple presenters from the surrounding counties during her days at the Weston Ranch kindergarten- through- eighth-grade site.

“I loved seeing all the farm animals,” said Hinkston, who is a junior at nearby Weston Ranch High.

As a member of the WRHS Future Farmers of America chapter, she brought along her rabbit project to the 15th annual Ag Day on Friday while also tending to the school farm sheep brought on for youngsters to pet and see up close.

That’s part of the purpose of Ag Day, according to longtime organizer Jeanne Pacheco, who is a fourth-grade teacher at Great Valley.

She indicated that the intent was to bring the farm to the students with support from the ag community and the likes of Janet Dyk and then-Principal David Silveira.

This year’s event was dedicated to the memory of Earl Roider, who was also known as the “Railroad Man” – a great supporter of Ag Day, he died earlier this year – with the theme being “All About Apples.”

Pacheco noted that the apples used for Ag Day were donated by Farmington Fresh and Manteca Unified Nutrition Services.

STEM Science and Common Core Math was used prior to the event for hands on learning, with students using the Ag Day theme to write stories, recipes, and do math fractions.

On display were products such as apple sauce and apple pies.

There were 50 presenters this year – donations from the Great Valley PTC, Horace Mann Insurance (Steve Fisher), #bestschoolday, and several local businesses made possible Ag Day – including those representing California Waterfowl, WRHS woodworking, the state Department of Fish & Game, Ducks Unlimited, Master Gardeners, and the Cowboy Museum, to name a few.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing presentation was newcomer in Jennifer Dickey, who’s in charge of the non-profit educational program Cruzin’ Critters based in Turlock.

A former employee of Marine World and the Micke Grove Zoo, she takes care of rescue animals such as reptiles and exotic birds.

Her desert tortoise, for example, was found in the backyard of an elderly person who had just passed away.

She also brought along a boa constrictor, a scarlet macaw, a Savannah monitor and an alligator.

Dickey named the latter “Wally, the Alligator,” estimating the nearly four-foot long critter recovered in the Port of Stockton to be about 5 years old.

In addition, she allowed students to pet the muzzled alligator on their way out.

Dickey often takes her Cruzin’ Critters on the road, visiting various school sites and speaking to groups about her “Wisdom thru Wildlife” program.

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