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Escalon FFA Fundraising Goat Kiss Effort Nets $144
Collections in the community raised over $100 - a total of $144 to be exact - so Escalon High School Principal Dave Lattig got the honor of kissing the goat to celebrate FFA Week on the campus of EHS.

The money raised, collected in canisters set out at several locations in the community, will go to Heifer Project International to purchase an animal for a family or village in an underdeveloped country, to help them become more self-sufficient.

Certain amounts collected, from $20 to $40, on up to over the $100 mark, would indicate which teacher or administrator had to kiss the goat. When the money was counted, Lattig was declared the 'winner.'

He approached the task with some trepidation, as a crowd of students gathered with cell phone cameras trained on the scene Friday at the quad. The lunchtime ceremony saw the goat, Mr. Pickles, brought in by ag teacher and FFA advisor Jennifer Terpstra.

"This is my daughter's goat and he pretty much only likes her," she explained as she tried to coerce Mr. Pickles out of the carrier.

Lattig offered some soothing remarks and first tentatively blew a kiss the goat's way before making sure he actually planted a kiss on the face of the animal.

Applause and cheers erupted, as students enjoyed the moment.

For teacher and advisor Bruce Campbell, it was a fun way to wrap up what he sees as a very important week on the campus.

"We believe in our program," Campbell said. "We try to get every kid as involved as possible."

There are some 320 Escalon High School students active in FFA and the chapter has a rich tradition of success in Field Days, competitions and, most recently, with a string of state officers.

"It is like a family," Campbell added of the camaraderie that develops among the group. "And we teach something that provides lifelong skills."

There are also many career opportunities in the field of agriculture, from floral design to ag science.

"We keep up with what's going on at the universities," Campbell said of the ag teachers. "There are new technologies, new opportunities for kids ... we are one of the many departments that provide for the future."

For Terpstra, the week also was important in that Escalon students are helping families that are less fortunate. The gift of a pair of rabbits or ducks or a water buffalo through Heifer Project International will help provide for the needs of a family overseas.

"We will get on the website and they can decide what they want to buy," she said of using the money.

The week also included a teacher appreciation luncheon on Thursday and FFA teams heading to weekend competition at UC Davis.