“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field”. This phrase has become even more relevant today than it was in 1956 when Dwight D. Eisenhower said it at Bradley University. As urbanization continues to push the boundaries of cities, the connection most people have to agriculture has dwindled to the point where most people do not recognize the importance or difficulties of agriculture. On March 20th, the USDA hosted Agriculture Day at the Capitol. California Ag Day is part of a National Ag Day campaign to recognize and celebrate the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. This year was the Centennial Celebration, celebrating 100 years of Agriculture leadership with the creation of the Department of Agriculture in 1919. This event highlights California’s agricultural community by showcasing the many crops and commodities that are produced in our state. It is also a day for farmers and ranchers to show their appreciation by bringing together state legislators, government leaders and the public for agricultural education
Twenty-four Shafter FFA members boarded the Amtrak train in Wasco at 6:25AM to journey to the steps of the California state Capitol. Shafter FFA members had the opportunity to tour the capitol as well as view the agricultural booths on the front steps of the capitol building. Students were able to see different sectors of agriculture, some of which they are not familiar. Some of the booths included alpacas from the California Alpaca Breeders, strawberries from the California Strawberry Commission, tri tip from the California Cattlemen’s association, and the flower bouquets from the California State Floral Association. Students were able to interact with fellow agriculturalists and recognize the significance of agriculture in our lives, and the historical impact agriculture has had on our state.
For Cristopher Hernandez, a junior in Shafter FFA, one of his favorite parts was being able to see Senator Shannon Grove’s office. Her Press Secretary, Maxie Holmberg-Douglas, talked to students about her experiences in FFA and how it helped her with her career. Students were given a tour of the Capitol building including the Senate floor and the House of Representatives viewing area. Starlight Mullikan, “loved the history of the building, it was so interesting and I learned a lot, the building is beautiful.”
The students enjoyed this chance to see the different opportunities in California and how they can affect change on a statewide scale. For many, this was their first time visiting the capitol and even riding a train. Abygail Flores, “FFA has given me many opportunities that I am very grateful for. I loved that I had the chance to go to Sacramento see all the booths for Ag and see how they help our world so greatly.” Students came back excited and with a better understanding of just how much agriculture impacts our lives.