Dale Reitz had a magical moment when he took the hand of a blind student at Ag Days and led him over to pet a calf. “He just lit up,” said Reitz, “you could just tell he was going to go home and tell his parents all about it. He’d never done anything like this.”
More than 4,500 students in Kindergarten through 6th grade attended Ag Days at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on March 17th and 18th. This event combines more than 30 exhibitors who donate their time to educate today’s students about agriculture. Ranging from live chickens, calves to pet and horse demonstrations to information about milk, soil, power and healthy living, every aspect of Sonoma County agriculture was represented.
Katie Lundy has been bringing students to Ag Days since she became a second grade teacher at Liberty Elementary School 19 years ago. “We attend Ag Days because it is important to teach students about agriculture,” said Lundy. Ag Days ties into Lundy’s social studies curriculum where students are learning how people around you make a difference, and she feels it’s important to demonstrate how farmers make a difference.
With many of the students attending coming from urban homes, not all students have had the opportunity to see live animals up close and value the opportunity to get friendly with pigs, lambs, cattle, horses and poultry. This year the faces of thousands of school children lit up as they tickled the noses of Belgian Draft horses, stroked the face of a playful Hereford bottle calf and felt the soft fur of baby chicks.
Ricardo Solono, a student from Brook Hill Elementary School, was reluctant to leave behind a baby pig. As his class headed a different direction, he looked over his shoulder exclaiming how cute the piglet was and getting one last glance before heading to a different exhibit.
Aside from live animals, students had the opportunity to learn about other aspects of agriculture. Laurie Bounsall brought her 145 year old Norwegian spinning wheel to teach students how wool can be turned into much more. “I attend Ag Days because of my love of spinning,” said Bounsall, “so many people are out of touch with where their clothing comes from now.”
In Garret Hall, teachers picked up educational materials they can use for lesson plans. The North Bay Dairy Women, district three princess Ellorine Carle and alternate princess Gina Piccinni were there to pass out milk to students. Students also had the opportunity to watch a presentation about the dairy industry which was made possible with a grant from the California Milk Advisory Board.
While students were picking up apples and mandarins in Finley Hall, they had a chance to see the “Farmer Feeds” display. The cutouts sitting at the tables represented how today’s average American farmer feeds 155 people per day.
This year’s Ag Days theme was “Sonoma County – Farm Powered!”. In addition to attending Ag Days, students had the opportunity to submit artwork, essays and class projects to be judged and displayed at the event. The contests sponsored by the Sonoma County Farm Bureau aim to have kids connect agriculture with the food they eat. Contest winners were featured at a dinner on Saturday night. Eight hundred students, teachers and parents gathered Tuesday night where more than 100 prizes were awarded.
With the tremendous help of the Ag Ed Committee, 4-H and FFA students, excellent volunteers and exhibitors and teachers interested in agriculture the 2015 Sonoma County Ag Days was a huge success.
Awards were presented by Tony Linegar, Agricultural Commissioner; Ellorine Carle, District 3 Dairy Princess; Susan Gorin, Chairman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors; Dr. Steven Herrington, Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools. Awards were given out at a ceremony on Tuesday March 17, 2015.
The Sonoma County Farm Bureau congratulates all the 2015 winners!
Award Photographs by Steve Knudsen
|Proctor Terrace’s third grade classes took grand prize for the farm video contest. The video was a group effort between the classes of Cartan, Johnson, Guerro and Matich.|
|Riley Piehl is a in first grade at St. Rose School. Riley is in Ms. Hahn’s class and won grand prize for her entry in the farm photography contest.|
|Talia Woods’ poster was a grand prize winner. Talia is in Mrs. Cartan’s third grade class at Proctor Terrace.|
|Jackson Fraizer is a second grader at St. Rose School. Jackson is in Mrs. Szczech’s class and won grand prize for his decorated grocery bag.|
|Olivia Esparza of Roseland Elementary School won grand prize for her essay. Olivia read her essay to the crowd after receiving her award. Olivia is a sixth grader in Ms. Solano’s class.|
|Mrs. Tedsen’s second grade class at Prestwood Elementary won grand prize for their mural.|
|Ms. Murad’s class at Monte Vista Elementary won grand prize for the scarecrow they entered.|