AZDA-ESD showcase “Ag in Schools Program” at Somerton Middle School.
By: Yuma ESD Staff
SMS Jr. Farmers, Ag Teachers, program sponsors and Yuma ESD staff held an open house on December 17th to showcase their Ag lab and talk about what the program has to offer. In attendance were AZDA Associate Director, Jack Peterson, Somerton City Manager, Ian McGaughey, Nature Fresh Farms General Manager, Mike Pasquinelli and his staff.
The event was covered by local media including a reporter for TV stations KYMA Channel 11 and KSWT Channel 13 as well as a newspaper reporter for the Yuma Sun and Spanish newspaper, Bajo el Sol.
City Manager Ian McGaughey told the TV stations that the City of Somerton was glad to provide water for irrigation from their municipal water system for our program because it is important to promote farming and careers in agriculture. He said ESD’s Ag in Schools is a great program and they are happy to be able to be part of it.
Jack Peterson spoke about the purpose of the program and explained that students learn better by doing; that hands-on, combined with classroom learning has historically been a more effective method of education. Peterson thanked program sponsors, especially Nature Fresh Farms, the Yuma Area Ag Council and the City of Somerton for their support.
Mike Pasquinelli explained that other program goals are to teach students about food production and to introduce them to careers in agriculture because we need new generations to operate and manage our farms.
SMS Farms’ ag teacher, Francisco Vasquez said he feels lucky to be part of such great program. He said that as a science teacher opportunities such as these, where students get to see how nature works and how applying Ag related scientific methods to farming is very important and should be available to all students particularly in our region where agriculture is the main industry. Vasquez said he and the school are very grateful to Nature Fresh Farms who is the main sponsor for Ag in Schools at the Somerton Middle School. He said Pasquinelli and his staff have been the key to the success of this program as they have taken on the task of creating a field from fallow land, develop an overhead irrigation system as well as participate in classroom teaching. He also said he has noticed a difference in some students who have a better sense of how important is to be responsible when you are given a task such as they are given here and the life of plants depend on them.
This program continues to be a success and we hope other schools chose to implement it on their campuses.