Children and parents were welcomed on Saturday to the San Benito High School ag barn to learn about various aspects of agriculture, from growing plants to raising animals at Community Farm Day. The third annual event was stated by Hollister Future Farmers of America (FFA) as a community service project to educate the community about agriculture and have fun at the same time.
Ag teacher and FFA Advisor Kelly Bianchi said the event for the past two years has teamed up with the San Benito County Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), and Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to incorporate a special needs resource round-up into the event.
“It’s a joint consortium of all San Benito County School Districts,” said Gwen Baquiran, Project Specialist for SELPA.
SELPA Director Chris Lompa explained that members of CAC get together once a month for parent education, professional development, and other ways to meet the needs of the community. “We listen to their needs and try to incorporate them,” she said.
Myndi Krafft, an ag teacher at SBHS, said, “We have over 300 students in FFA, and it’s the leadership class that organized this event. There are several areas of study in FFA, including veterinary science, floral design and agriculture mechanics."
Mark Scalmanini, president of the Hollister FFA Leadership Group Team, under the direction of FFA teacher Joe Martin, made announcements to the crowd via the public address system, and pointed out the available activities, which included carnival games, face painting, agriculture facts, a petting zoo and a vegetable planting station, along with a free lunch provided by the Hollister Ag Boosters.
Corissa King, vice president of Hollister FFA, echoed Scalmanini’s words saying they want to get the community involved in agriculture. Her brother, Dallin, kept the participants busy in a transplanting area.
“We are giving away green onion, broccoli and celery startups, for people to plant inside or on an outside garden," Dallin King said.
Jenny Camara-Ray and Nicole Ray brought their hula dance troop to entertain. “We dance at many gatherings for juvenile diabetes, breast cancer, foster care and we have danced at Disney Universal and Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California as well as children’s hospitals and veterans' homes in Los Angeles,” said Camara-Ray.
Hollister Fire Captain Dennis McNight brought a static display for the community to experience, and gave junior firefighter stickers out to children. Firefighter Levi Sutton helped children get inside the cab of a fire truck to experience what it would be like to sit in the driver’s seat.
“We’re demonstrating this display to show citizens what the fire truck engines are like up-close," Sutton said. "They see the red blur go by, but here they can see what it looks like and all the fun tools we use.”
Hollister Police Officer Carlos Rodriguez manned a table for children to pick up coloring books and crayons.
“Besides what we’re doing today, we also do safety presentations to various organizations and schools to promote bike safety and safety in general,” he said.
John Crepeau, an American Red Cross volunteer, shared material relating to disaster readiness from a variety of organizations, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Nearly every concern a parent would have was addressed during the event, and the petting zoo welcomed many children eager to pet a lamb, a goat or a pig, and the animals seemed willing to take part in that effort.