CHICO, Calif. — One by one, youngsters from Little Chico Creek Elementary School here got to discover what it’s like to sit in the driver’s seat of a Case 210 tractor.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Austin Johannsen, a California State University-Chico agriculture student who was helping to put on the demonstration.
“I think if kids are involved at a young age and actually learn what agriculture is and get a feel for it, it can drive them in the future,” said Johannsen, a resident of Durham, Calif.
The nearly 300 kindergarteners and first- and second-graders from area schools were going from station to station at the university farm April 4, learning from college students about different aspects of agriculture.
Agriculture majors taught the young children how to rope dummy calves in the university’s pavilion, demonstrated how a stock dog can move sheep inside a pen and let the kids pet a lamb and other animals.
The College of Agriculture’s Ag Day started in the early 1990s as a way to familiarize area schoolchildren, teachers and parents about the university’s offerings, organizers said.
“This is great,” said Kasey DeAtley, an assistant animal science professor. “We love doing this. It’s been good for the community and good for our Chico State students. It gets them exposed to the community a bit.”
As with many events hosted by the college, Ag Day is planned and facilitated by students, the college’s website explains. An ag leadership class organizes the event, and ag sorority Sigma Alpha, ag fraternity Alpha Gamma Rho and student groups such as the Young Cattlemen’s Association host booths.
Johanssen and his classmate, Adam Toomire of Morgan Hill, Calif., were helping the kids as part of Alpha Gamma Rho, which has chapters at about 70 universities nationwide. Toomire said the students try to teach the youngsters to have an open mind about agriculture.
“Some people kind of look down on it,” he said. “This kind of opens up their minds.”