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School farm hosts 3,000 plus 3rd graders
Students taking part in Thursdays AgVenture field trip at the Manteca Unified School Farm help themselves to fresh apple and Bartlett pears, Granny Smith and red delicious apples, and tangerines from La Rosa Farms in Hughson. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

More than 3,000 third graders from all over San Joaquin County had an educational and fun day at the farm Thursday. Playing host to the thousands of youngsters eager to learn about apples, walnuts, almonds, pomegranates and everything else related to farming was the Manteca Unified School Farm.

The students even got rewarded for learning and asking questions that day. The rewards came in the form of free fresh Granny and Fuji apples, Bartlett and apple pears, and mandarin oranges from La Rosa Farms in Houghson, giant cabbage seedlings from Bonnie Plants, and bottled water, among other things.

The youngsters were eager to share what they learned during their field trip.

“We learned that it takes three to four years for the apple tree to grow,” smiled Darrel Cenido from Bethany Elementary School, one of the schools from Mountain House who joined the ag experience.

In the informational table hosted by Sierra High FFA members Lindsey Walker, a senior, and Kaylie Wright, a junior, the third graders learned about the trees and animals, and what grows above and below the ground. The Timberwolves FFA students said the children appeared to be knowledgeable about a lot about the subject of their presentation. “But they’re really excited to learn a little bit more,” said Walker.

In the display table manned by Weston Ranch High School FFA student Nisha Umarhayat, August Knodt Elementary third graders Angel Arevalos and Brian Munoz had fun learning how to use a hammer by eagerly pounding a nail onto a piece of wood. Umarhayat said what in addition to giving the children a fun activity to do, they also gave the youngsters some helpful hints on how to properly handle the tool.

There were several other FFA high school students who gave educational presentations to the third graders. Cole Christensen and Daniel Medeiros of East Union  High’s FFA showed the students how a car engine’s spark plugs look like and how it works Twins Caitlin and Cassidy Pehl of Escalon High’s FFA were among the volunteers from a school outside Manteca Unified. Ty Dunlap and Katie Green, both of Modesto Junior College, brought a trio of pigs – Yorkshire and Hampshire – to the school farm. The three- to four-year-old black-and-white friendly animals were a big hit to the students who had their fill stroking their backs.

AgVenture is a program for third graders in San Joaquin County whose goal is to let them – along with their teachers, parents, and chaperones – experience the world of agriculture. About 11,000 students take part in the program each year.