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Sonoma County students get up close to farm life

  • From the left, Peter Burroughs, Erik Amvurn and Kayla Gallagher reach to pet a rooster during the annual Ag Days at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

What's cuter than a crate full of fluffy yellow ducklings? How about a dozen tiny potential future farmers in oversized rain coats and galoshes ogling the baby animals?

About 2,000 elementary students from 30 Sonoma County schools slogged through a Wednesday morning rain shower to learn about livestock and agriculture at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau's 31st annual Ag Days.

More than 4,200 kids from 60 schools were expected to attend the two-day event at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds that began Tuesday, said Tim Tesconi, executive director of the Farm Bureau.

Ag Days

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"A lot of these kids don't know about agriculture and have never been to a farm," Tesconi said. "We believe it's important for them to understand and appreciate the ag industry in Sonoma County. It really is an experience for them."

Students sampled some of the many locally made products including apples, honey, cheese and milk. Francesca Gambonini, 18, the North Bay Dairy Women Dairy Princess, answered questions in her tiara and sash.

A St. Vincent High School alumna and sixth-generation dairy farmer from Petaluma, Gambonini said one of her duties as Dairy Princess is to educate the younger generation about the advantages of local agriculture.

"So many dairies are going out of business," she said. "It's our job to keep it going so that when these kids grow up, they can raise their kids to see that agriculture benefits everyone."

The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student said most of the students' questions were about her tiara.

"They ask me, &‘Do you live in a castle?'" she said.

Students watched a sheep shearing demonstration, petted baby goats and made crafts out of leather.


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