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Porker Pucker Pig Provides Fodder For FFA Fundraiser
Having the dubious distinction of being a repeat customer, Escalon High teacher Ryan Young nevertheless puckered up, closed his eyes, and planted a kiss on the head of a young, nervous pig named Oreo.

Squealing - though no one was quite sure if it was in fright or delight -Oreo was a hit with the crowd on Friday in the quad at EHS, the 'pig kiss' serving as the culmination of FFA Week festivities on the campus.

"Our ag department and the kids were so appreciative of him taking part," Escalon ag teacher and FFA advisor Jennifer Terpstra said of Young. "He was a very good sport about the whole thing."

The 'Kiss a Pig' fundraiser had several participants, and the teacher that raised the most money - by students and staff making donations to their jar - had to kiss the pig. The money raised is going for a good cause, benefiting the Heifer Project International.

"Last year I think we raised enough to buy a pair of ducks and a water buffalo," Terpstra said. "Because they are in developing countries, it's relatively low cost to purchase them."

The Heifer International project aims to help families in developing areas become more self-sufficient, such as providing chickens to lay eggs, cows to provide milk, and more.

"You can even buy some honeybees for a family," Terpstra said.

Young, who was the chosen staff member a few years ago, approached the task this year with a little more ease, but was still a little apprehensive.

He took time to gently pet the little porker before puckering up. The pig was provided through No Limit Genetics of Modesto, courtesy of student teacher Rex Mendonza.

A small crowd gathered under the threatening skies on Friday, but the morning rain cleared away and gave pig and kisser a reprieve, long enough for the smooch.

Among those on hand to watch was EHS student and FFA member Aaliyah Wallace, who helped put together a week's worth of activities.

"I really enjoyed planning it," she said. "Plus I got to spend the week telling people about FFA."

She served as co-chair for the FFA week, which included a variety of lunchtime activities, from competitive games based on the popular TV game show 'Minute To Win It' and a lunch hosted for the entire school staff.

"It's an opportunity for some of our kids to explore a new avenue in leadership," teacher and FFA advisor Bruce Campbell added of the week and getting involved in the organization. "We had a great committee this year that planned it."

Fellow advisor Stacy Ingalls echoed the sentiment.

"It takes a lot of different kids to get involved, just at our chapter level," Ingalls said of having a successful FFA on campus.

Mary Steves is president of the Escalon FFA this year, while Wallace, Bella Curtoni and Derek Veenstra served as co-chairs for the special FFA week.

Monday was celebrated as Pajama Day and ag students got to watch a movie at lunch, Tuesday was the staff luncheon, with tri tip, salad, fruit and dessert, while Wednesday offered a cake social. Thursday included the 'Ag Olympics' and Friday wrapped up with the Kiss a Pig event.

Campbell said he likes the fundraising pig kiss because it helps provide for a family in need, often halfway around the world.

"It does create an awareness on campus," he said of the needs in Third World countries. "This helps a family get started, helps them with running a business, helps them be self-sufficient."