March 14, 2014

Farm Beat: Kids shine in ag story-writing contest

The “Imagine This ...” storywriting contest gives elementary school students a chance to tell about the wonders of California agriculture.

I have written countless stories about farming, but none of them involved a cornfield turning to popcorn. Or a pair of raindrops falling in love high above the fields.

Those were among the images created by Stanislaus County children who won statewide awards in an annual writing contest on farm topics. They received three of the six grand prizes in the latest version, and a Merced student won a fourth.

The “Imagine This ” contest is sponsored by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. Students in third through eighth grades can enter factual or fictional writings that celebrate farming or ranching.

The grand-prize winners, one in each grade, will be honored Wednesday in Sacramento as part of the annual Ag Day at the Capitol. Their works will be compiled into an illustrated book, and their teachers will each get $100 worth of educational materials.

The local winners:

• Third grade: Rose Velasquez of McSwain School in Merced for “The Pink Shirt.” It tells how Jimmy Cotton Plant produces fiber that is processed into cloth that becomes a little girl’s shirt.
• Fourth grade: Evan Johns of Gratton School in Denair for “The Incident,” about ranchers dealing with rustlers and injured cattle.
• Fifth grade: Jake Martin of Sacred Heart School in Patterson, for “Luigi’s Pride.” It’s about a farmer tending a cornfield and dreaming that it popped.
• Eighth grade: Morgan Hicks of Gratton School for “Raineo and Dropulete,” a twist on “Romeo and Juliet” that involves raindrops.

These stories can be read at Each was illustrated by groups of high school art students, mostly from Sacramento.

Several students in and near Stanislaus County won regional awards:

• Grace Reis, a third-grader at Gratton, for “A Corny Costume.”
• Ismael Peralta, a third-grader at Gratton, for “Hard Work Pays Off.”
• Jenny Jean McLaughlin, a fifth-grader at Sacred Heart, for “Field Trip to My Farm.”
• Mark Ludwig, a sixth-grader at St. Stanislaus School in Modesto, for “The Power of the Pomegranate.”
• Peter Fogarty, a sixth-grader at Sacred Heart School in Turlock, for “The Life of an Almond.”
• Sydney Rice, a seventh-grader at Gratton, for “Giddy Up.”
• Morgan Overholtzer, a seventh-grader at Gratton, for “From Farm to Market.”
• Copeland Camp, a third-grader at McSwain, for “The Odd Life of a Tomato.”
• Lenna Foster, a sixth-grader at St. Anthony School in Atwater, for “The Farmer’s Secret Ingredient.”
• Grace Reyes, a seventh-grader at St. Anthony, for “Milly and Her Big Debut.”
• Rachel Albritton, an eighth-grader at Waverly School in Linden, for “The All Garden.”

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