Chatom Elementary School was a zoo on Friday — literally.
Chickens, rabbits, pigs, goats and more could be found on the elementary school campus as part of the Agriculture Appreciation Day, an annually anticipated event that places students in touch with the different facets of the agriculture industry. From learning how to goat tie to practicing gardening techniques at the school garden, the annual event provides students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the industry that sustains the Central Valley and many of the families that attend the country school.
“The kids see the cows and they see the goats but this event takes it to a new level,” explained Shannon Padilla, Agriculture Day coordinator.
The annual event allows students to step outside of the classroom and spread across the campus to rotate through stations that each feature agriculture based lessons. A large community event, many former Chatom students return to teach current students the same instrumental industry lessons they were taught as school children.
“We’re a family school. We’re full of generation after generation students and the Ag Appreciation Day really shows that,” said Linda Hack, one of the original founders of the event.
From learning how to make butter and plant seedlings from the students of the Pitman and Turlock High School Future Farmers of America programs to hearing about the development of chickens from Foster Farms representatives that brought baby chicks, the Chatom students walked away from the annual event with a better grasp on the multifaceted agricultural industry. Many local students and companies also made an appearance including representatives from Pork Power Farms, the Mountain View Fire Department, JS West and Companies, the Chatom and Mountain View 4-H chapters and more.
“It’s freedom from the paperwork and allows the kids to dig into life skills,” said Hack.
The annual Agriculture Appreciation Day began in the early 1990s when Hack and fellow teacher Shirley Griggs were sent to the National Agriculture Convention in Monterey by former superintendent Anthony Borba. Upon their return, the teachers were asked to found an annual event to educate students on the importance of the multifaceted industry to the area. Since its founding, Agriculture Appreciation Day has become an annually anticipated event integral to education at Chatom Elementary School.