Back on the farm: Bear River agriculture department stays busy through summer | TheUnion.com

Back on the farm: Bear River agriculture department stays busy through summer

While area schools are preparing to open their doors within coming weeks, the agriculture department and FFA classes at Bear River High School have been busy throughout the summer.

Morgan Perry, ag mechanics instructor at Bear River, said her department's contracts add about 40 days to the typical school year, keeping the teachers working throughout the summer.

After a busy school year, in which its parliamentary procedure team clenched the state championship, Bear River's ag department is ready for the upcoming Nevada County Fair, taking place Wednesday through Aug. 12.

"We have animals and we have students that are showing live stock," said Perry. "For us that includes goat, sheep, pigs, steers and heifers and dairy cows. Those are all sold at the livestock auction Sunday, Aug. 12. I also have ag mechanics students who create projects to sell at the ag mechanics auction which is on Aug. 10."

Perry explained her students work with 4-H members and show animals in a similar fashion, but in different classes than the 4-H teams. Animals are judged on market readiness, on how well it is behaved and on how well the student has worked with the animal.

Once the fair is complete, Perry said, kids will soon be returning to school, where this year Bear River is partnering with Sierra College to offer FFA students dual enrollment in certain classes.

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"We will be piloting a dual-enrolled ag mechanics class for our year two, which means they will be taking the Sierra College class at Bear River High School," explained Perry. "A lot of people think that ag mechanics kids aren't going to college, and that is so far from the truth. About half go to college and about half are immediately employed after they graduate. We really, in the ag department, want to make sure that our kids are college and career ready."

Perry said they hope they can implement a similar dual-enrollment program in welding. She is confident improvements to the agriculture department's shop — her team has spent the summer months building new cabinetry, improving ventilation, and adding welders donated by Siemens — will help them prepare students for a promising future.

"FFA is the largest student-lead organization in the world," Perry said. "A lot of people think of FFA and they think of cows and plows and that is not what FFA is, at least not that simply. It's student leadership, and we do that through project management, public speaking. We want our kids to be ready to join — competitively — the real world."

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@gmail.com or 530-477-4231.

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