A small army of third graders descended on the Mother Lode Fairgrounds Tuesday for a series of agriculture demonstrations on everything from wool spinning to cattle branding.
The "Field Day on the Farm" event, now a local tradition, was organized by the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau and other organizations to familiarize elementary schoolers with farming in the community.
The third-graders - who came from both public and private schools in the county - learned about cultivating apples from Ben Cover, who informed them that apples come from blossoms that are pollinated by bees.
The students also got lessons about forestry, horses, beef and dairy cattle, and sheep at various hands-on stations set up in the fairgrounds.
They even had the opportunity to meet Tuck, an orphaned calf belonging to local rancher Nathan Rosasco and his family, and practice "cattle branding" with paper cattle.
"It's basically for them to experience Tuolumne County agriculture hands-on," said Doni Rosasco, Rosasco's wife, who coordinates Field Day on the Farm.
The event is nicknamed "Ag Day" and has been held every year for at least 15 years, according to Elena Linehan, the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau's new executive director. It's coordinated with the state-mandated curriculum for third grade.
Several high school members of Future Farmers of America were present to answer questions and act as guides. Most had experienced Ag Day as elementary schoolers, too.
"It's good for them to see it, especially with all the stuff you see on TV," said Will Thomas, a Sonora High senior and FFA officer. "They need to know that (livestock) is treated well."
Sonora High agriculture teacher Stan Kellogg said third graders occasionally have some misconceptions about where their food, and wool clothing, originates.
"This teaches them their food and fiber comes from real people doing real things," he said.