East County San Diego Junior Fair showcases variety of students’ learning in farming and agriculture
Heifers and hogs stood side-by-side with the snack bar’s ice cream and barbeque sandwiches last week during the Eastern San Diego County Junior Fair.
Future Farmers of America and 4-H club members throughout East County traveled to the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds and spent the week showcasing their livestock.
Mountain Empire High School FFA advisor and Junior Fair Secretary Kelly Tulloch said raising cattle, goats and pigs helps to mature her students.
“They learn responsibility because they’ve got something to take care of,” she said. “They make sure they’ve got their feed, they make sure that they’re exercising and keeping their pens clean. Then you’ve got to come here and it’s kind of an organized chaos. Especially with pigs.”
East County students also showed off potted plants, handcrafted benches and photographs at the fair. Many attendees checked out the displays while taking cover from last week’s rain while others headed to the snack bar. El Capitan High School senior Dustin Suttles, the school’s FFA president, said the money from the concession stand finances the Investment for Youth Fund, a scholarship awarded to 4-H and FFA members.
“A couple of seniors apply and we have to interview and we have to also work in the cook shack,” he said. “We have a couple of shifts we have to do. Then at the end of the week we find out who got the scholarship and how much money we got, but it’s all purely based off the profits from the snack bar. So if the community doesn’t buy very much, we don’t get much money.”
Suttles and El Cap’s other participants did not have a long drive to the Rodeo Grounds. Many of the Mountain Empire students, however, as well as students from other towns in East County, stayed in trailers for the entire week rather than driving back and forth. Tulloch said the fair’s packed schedule grants eligible students another learning opportunity.
“They’re on a field trip for a week from school -- if they have the grades,” she said. “They get their schoolwork from their teachers and they work on it down here and they have to have it ready when they go back. It’s crazy, they have to be at the barns at 6 A.M. to clean and feed… they have to learn how to manage their time.”
Kevin Robinson of El Cajon said both of his sons showed animals at the fair before heading off to college. He agreed with Tulloch and said the fair’s penchant for preparing hard-working adults keep him coming back each year.
“They can take everything that they get here, whether it’s 4-H or FFA, with raising these animals, and it makes them more qualified for college and it sets them up for a great work ethic when they’re in the adult working world,” he said. “It’s the best ticket in town as far as I’m concerned.”