From Farm to Table
Students Hungry to Learn about Local Agriculture at Manteca Unified's District Farm
Every Fall, third graders hoof it to Manteca Unified’s district farm for an udderly awesome field trip!
AgVenture is a county-sponsored agriculture and nutrition education program for all third graders in San Joaquin County. This experience is always brimming with interactive activities and engaging presentations designed to teach curious young minds about our county’s top industry.
Thanks to the collaboration of Future Farmers of America (high school students), industry experts, and additional student groups, third graders leave AgVenture with a deeper understanding of agriculture and the role it plays in our county and society.
A Taste of Something New
Before students reach Manteca Unified’s district farm, Nutrition Education (NE) staff greet the third graders with a bounty of fruits and vegetables. In a single-file line, students each pick out two items from NE’s free Farmers Market to snack on throughout their field trip. A few stepped out of their comfort zone to try something new, with many interested in the apple-pear hybrid!
“Our Farmers Market is an opportunity for students to learn about fruits and vegetables,” explains Tracee Franks, Coordinator of Nutrition Education Services.
“Fruits and vegetables all have different nutrients that children need. So, when they’re selecting different items, especially vegetables, it provides more nourishment for their growing bodies.”
She smiles, noting how every year she finds a few students walking around AgVenture while munching on a whole bell pepper or cucumber.
NE works relentlessly each day to serve nutritious meals to 30,000 students. They also serve fresh opportunities as school cafeterias often give students the chance to try new foods!
If you’re a current student or MUSD alumni, you might recall trying something for the first time at your school’s garden bar.
As a former Brock Elliott student, Ms. Franks remembers trying kiwi for the first time in her school lunch. On her next trip to the grocery store, she was asking her parents for kiwis!
The Root of Ag Learning
After third graders select their fruits and/or veggies, they are free to explore several educational booths staffed with industry experts and Agriculture students, excited to share their knowledge on everything from raising animals to bee pollination.
Agriculture is the Central Valley’s top industry, and local farmers provide the nation with a lot of resources: dairy, citrus, grapes, almonds, and more.
Dressed in a full bee-keeper suit, Manteca High sophomore Lynn was eager to talk about pollination, explain how bee hives function, and taste-test honey with the third graders. She notes how bees play an important role in growing food, “they are awesome because they keep our plants alive and growing through pollination.”
Our district not only understands the importance of agricultural work but also the value of exposing students to local career opportunities. Through Agricultural Career Technical Education (CTE) classes, high school students can learn specialized knowledge and industrial skills that will benefit them whether they pursue a career in agriculture or not.
Juan, a senior at Lathrop High School, spent AgVenture teaching students about chickens, but one day hopes to work with much larger animals as a livestock veterinarian.
He shared he initially joined 4-H in eighth grade for fun, but his focus shifted when he joined FFA as a freshman. “When I got to high school, it wasn’t just about all the fun I could have, but the careers and opportunities I could have.”