Mid­dle School Stu­dents Ex­plore Ag Ca­reers And Col­lege Op­tions

Escalon Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MARG JACKSON mjack­son@escalon­times.com

From agron­omy to vet­eri­nary sci­ence, col­lege op­por­tu­ni­ties to iden­ti­fy­ing bugs, the Ag Day hosted at Escalon High School on March 24 pro­vided an over­view of the many ca­reers the field of agri­cul­ture of­fers.

Staged for El Por­tal Mid­dle School sev­enth and eighth graders, the Ag Day fea­tured many com­mu­nity pre­sen­ters along with high school FFA mem­bers in­volved in pre­sent­ing in­for­ma­tion about their field of in­ter­est and area of ex­per­tise.

“Agri­cul­ture is the num­ber one econ­omy in the state of Cal­i­for­nia and we’re an agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity,” Escalon High School Prin­ci­pal Eric Si­moni said, not­ing he felt the Ag Day was im­por­tant to put on.

He of­fered praise for or­ga­niz­ers and pre­sen­ters alike, with the mid­dle school stu­dents able to get an idea how they can pur­sue agri­cul­ture at the high school level and be­yond.

Fresh­man Jackie Lopez was help­ing younger stu­dents with trans­planted plants, wa­ter­ing them be­fore they took them home with in­struc­tions on how to re­plant the tomato and broc­coli in hopes of grow­ing some to eat later. She was part of the Or­na­men­tal Hor­ti­cul­ture group.

At the Agron­omy booth, se­nior Caitlin Pehl ex­plained that the

team was show­ing stu­dents var­i­ous beans and how to judge them, look­ing for any ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, or de­bris, that could ad­versely im­pact the bean.

Se­niors Julia Or­lando and Mary Va­len­cia, along with sopho­more Scott Terp­stra, staffed the Vet­eri­nary Sci­ence booth and demon­strated how to muz­zle a dog and also gave in­for­ma­tion on the op­por­tu­ni­ties within the ca­reer, as well as let­ting younger stu­dents lis­ten to the heart­beat of the two vis­it­ing ca­nines, Kip­per and Rocky.

Out­side the gym, se­niors Mon­ica San­doval, Gil­lian Good­man and Emma San­tel­lan shared the in­tri­ca­cies of light horse judg­ing with in­ter­ested stu­dents while a huge trac­tor on dis­play also drew some on­look­ers.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Delta Col­lege, Modesto Ju­nior Col­lege, AgVen­ture and more were on hand, along with Modesto Milling, an ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion business and more.

“We iden­tify bugs,” fresh­man Jack Fitzger­ald ex­plained to a group of mid­dle school stu­dents stop­ping by the Pest Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion ta­ble.

That par­tic­u­lar skill is cru­cial to main­tain­ing a healthy crop and is an in­te­gral part of the agri­cul­tural econ­omy.

Si­moni said de­spite the rain on Fri­day, which forced many of the pre­sen­ters in­side, he felt the Ag Day was an over­all suc­cess.

“Bot­tom line, our agri­cul­tural pro­grams are im­por­tant to our town, our school and our fu­ture,” he said.

MARG JACKSON/THE TIMES

Stu­dents from El Por­tal Mid­dle School look over the tomato and broc­coli plants, able to choose one for trans­plant­ing and tak­ing home from the high school’s Ag Day fes­tiv­i­ties on Fri­day.

MARG JACKSON/THE TIMES

Escalon se­nior Mary Va­len­cia, fore­ground, demon­strates how to put a muz­zle on a dog at the Vet­eri­nary Sci­ence ta­ble dur­ing Ag Day. Kip­per, a Mal­tese ser­vice dog, was the will­ing model ca­nine.

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