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More than 300 volunteers to lead 3,600 students on ag tour Wednesday

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POSTED January 27, 2009 1:10 a.m.
More than 300 volunteers from Manteca will be serving as tour guides to about 4,000 third-graders during Wednesday’s AgVenture event at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds.
With the weather forecast calling for sunny skies that day, the volunteers will not have to worry about umbrellas and raincoats when they lead the Stockton-area students through the scores of agricultural displays that include a variety of heavy-equipment farm machinery plus an array of plants grown in the county where they live.
AgVenture Coordinator Janet Dyk of Manteca said the fair weather and the number of volunteers who stepped up to the plate were nothing less than the answer to her prayers.
“I was sick over the weekend with the flu,” she said.
And as if being confined in bed on her birthday during the weekend’s wet weather that included hail was not enough, she also worried about the upcoming event and whether she would be able to round up volunteers to help.
“I was thinking , what if it rains? What if I don’t get enough volunteers? Well, I prayed and prayed and sure enough, my prayers were answered. I have more than enough volunteers, …and the weather should be dry. I am truly blessed,” said a fully recovered Dyk on Monday.
Nearly a hundred displays will be showcased during this educational field trip to help San Joaquin youngsters learn about agriculture and nutrition. It is also designed to show them that the food they eat at their dining table, such as eggs and meat, don’t just come from the grocery store.
The AgVenture program, according to the flyer prepared by Dyk, showcases “San Joaquin County’s agricultural industry and the benefits of making healthy eating choices. Students will form a connection between the food on their plate and the crops grown in our county. They will also become aware of the importance of agriculture in their daily lives.”
In addition to the machinery and plant displays, the students will be able to enjoy other attractions such as the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s off-road vehicles plus several “unique animals” including alpacas and draft horses, Dyk said.
The agricultural field trip will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is sponsored by the county, the San Joaquin County Office of Education, San Joaquin Farm Bureau, California Women for Ag, San Joaquin Ag Foundation, Food-4-Less, Rancho San Miguel Markets, and CentrOMart. The tour is set up in such a way that five busloads of students will arrive every 15 minutes.
Wednesday’s AgVenture is the second of three similar events that Dyk was contracted by the San Joaquin County Ag Comissioner’s Office to present between October 2008 and July 2009. The first AgVenture was held last Oct. 23 for third graders in the South San Joaquin County area. That field trip included third graders from the school districts in Manteca, Escalon, Ripon, and Tracy. Also invited to participate were the St. Bernard’s and St. Anthony’s schools in Tracy and Manteca, respectively, and Ripon Christian School. That event was even bigger than the one being held on Wednesday, Dyk said. That one consisted of 4,000 students and more than 400 volunteers, she said.
The next AgVenture will be held on March 11 and will be open to third graders in the Lodi and Linden school districts.
Coordinating AgVenturewas a breeze for Dyk after being involved in Manteca Unified’s Ag Days for 12 years. The job opening could not have happened at a better time for Dyk. It became available soon after she retired in September from Manteca Unified where she worked for 21 years.
“This is a dream job for me. When they offered this position, I jumped at it,” said Dyk who comes from a family of dairy farmers in Manteca.
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