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Middle School Students Explore Ag Careers And College Options
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 schools Ag Day festivities on Friday. Marg Jackson/The Times


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 re-plant 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.