By Tim Tesconi
Thanksgiving came a couple of days early on the Santa Rosa Junior College campus when members of the college’s Ag Ambassadors hosted a free lunch for 600 students and faculty as a way to celebrate Sonoma County farmers and ranchers.
The Ag Ambassadors under the leadership of SRJC agriculture student Jenna Fehring served the “Thank a Farmer” lunch on Nov. 20 as a way to raise awareness of locally grown food and the value of the farmers and ranchers who bring us our daily supply of milk, meat, fruit and vegetables. Many of those products were on the plates given to students and faculty who lined up for the free lunch in front of the Bertolini Center on the SRJC campus. There was no preaching or forms to sign, just a good honest-to-goodness free lunch that included tri-tip, mashed potatoes, cheese, apple, milk and bread. It was delicious and locally grown, donated by Sonoma County farmers. American AgCredit, based in Santa Rosa, and Farmstead of St. Helena donated money to support the lunch and its positive message about agriculture. Sonoma County Farm Bureau provided educational posters about agriculture’s role in Sonoma County.
“The whole purpose of the Thank a Farmer lunch is to recognize our farmers for their hard work, dedication and for constantly providing for our community. Through this lunch we are trying to educate students and local residents about agriculture to counter the mistruths put out by PETA and other groups,” said Jenna Fehring, who organized the lunch and rounded up the food from Sonoma County producers.
“Looking back on the event I'd say that I'm very impressed and proud of the effort put forth to make the day a success, not only by our club's committees but also by the local producers who donated and showed much support,” said Fehring. “ I think our cause is an important one, and the significant participation by the community shows that they recognize that fact and appreciate our local agriculture here in Sonoma County.
Fehring said the SRJC Ag Ambassadors were prepared to feed 1,000 people at the “Thank a Farmer” lunch but numbers were down because of the rainy weather.
Farmers and processors donating food were: apples, Walker Apples of Graton; cheese, Marin French Cheese Co. of Petaluma; potatoes, SRJC Shone Farm in Forestville; milk, Clover-Stornetta Farms in Petaluma; Wallaby organic yogurt, Beretta Family Organic Dairy, Santa Rosa; and bread, Costeaux French Bakery in Healdsburg.
Fehring, recently elected president of the SRJC Ag Ambassadors, is majoring in animal science while working her way into agriculture education over the next three semesters at SRJC. She plans to transfer to either Cal Poly San Luis Obispo or Chico State to continue and finish her degree in agriculture education.
“I'm still scheming ways to make the next step possible, but I'm determined to also get a master's degree. This would either be in Agriculture with specializations in Animal Science from Cal Poly, or from Texas A&M, in either Animal Science, Genetics, or Ag Education,” said Fehring.
Her goal is to eventually teach agriculture but is determined to get experience in the different fields over the years to build up a varied cache of knowledge.
“Ag education is closest to my heart because I know that without excellent, passionate teachers such as Ms. Casey Cole showing young adults how fascinating and vital agriculture is, I myself would have never pursued this area of study as far as I plan to,” said Fehring. “I look forward to introducing my future students to the world of agriculture>”
The SRJC Ag Ambassadors is an organization that promotes, maintains and supports students in the agriculture program at SJRC. The group’s motto is “Leading the way to a better tomorrow in Agriculture.” Ag Ambassadors volunteer at a number of agriculture events in their mission to support and enhance the county’s $3 billion farming industry. Ag Ambassadors have been dedicated volunteers at many of the events sponsored by Sonoma County Farm Bureau including the annual Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest held the first Saturday night in February in the Grace Pavilion at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.