For the last eighteen years, the first Saturday in February has marked an event of career and technical education courses a Pierce High School.
Since its conception in 1998, the Arbuckle FFA Field Day has developed into an emporium of learning opportunities.
“We started out with just three contests and a handful of kids,” said Cindy Rohde, Arbuckle FFA Ag Mechanics Instructor and Ag Advisor.
Hosted in part with other Field Days, the Arbuckle FFA Field Day has become known as the ‘best field day in the state’.
“Everywhere you go, I hear advisors complementing on how great the field day is,” said Rohde, “but I can not take the credit, the students and area FFA chapters have worked very hard in making the event a success.”
The event was such a success that even, District 4 Senator, Jim Nielsen made an appearance.
This year, the event had over 98 schools registered and expected over 1,410 students.
“We are larger than most college field days,” said Rohde, “we are even bigger than the Merced FFA Field Day, and the advisor told me that!”
To put the registration numbers into perspective, the 2010 US census listed the unincorporated town of Arbuckle with a population of 3,028 people. Pierce High School, where the event is hosted, has an estimated 360 students in attendance. Rohde commented that the group cooked 1,100 pounds of tri-tip to feed all of the hungry students and volunteers.
“We’ve outgrown the high school grounds the past few years and had to expand to the junior high school, and use facilities outside of the school,” said Rohde, “This year we used just about every room at the junior high.”
The event features seventeen events, including Agricultural Mechanics, Ag Sales, Agronomy, Best Informed Greenhand, Co-op Quiz, Creed, Dairy Products, Farm Business Management, Farm Power, Farm Records, and Floriculture, Forestry, Land Judging, Lt. Horse Judging, Nursery/Landscape Management, Small Engines, Veterinary Science, and Vegetable Crops.
“The event went great, and it was a beautiful day,” said Rohde, “the day ran very smoothly, the kids did an excellent job!”
Rohde also commented that although most of the day’s contests were set up and ran by Pierce students, surrounding high schools also assisted in the event.
“We have schools that ask if they can host a contest during the event and we welcome them,” said Rohde.
Those schools were Atwater, Waterford, Las Plumas, Trinity, Lassen, Hughson, and Woodland.
With its 20th anniversary in a couple of years, Rohde commented, “It hit me the other night while driving home that next year’s field day will include students who were not born at the time the field day started, it is mind boggling.”