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Sat, Dec. 07

Summer Ag Institute tour includes stop at Groseta ranch

Tuesday, about 30 Arizona educators learn about the ranching industry at Andy and Mary Beth Groseta’s W Dart Ranch, part of the 26th annual Summer Ag Institute tour. (Photo by Bill Helm)

Tuesday, about 30 Arizona educators learn about the ranching industry at Andy and Mary Beth Groseta’s W Dart Ranch, part of the 26th annual Summer Ag Institute tour. (Photo by Bill Helm)

COTTONWOOD - Since 1922, the Groseta family has been in the cattle business.

Believing as much in education as he does ranching, Andy Groseta and his wife Mary Beth opened their Cottonwood home - and their W Dart Ranch on Tuesday to about 30 of the state's educators for the annual Summer Agriculture Institute's annual tour.

Now in its 26th year, the Summer Agriculture Institute is a cooperative extension of the University of Arizona's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. According to Monica Pastor, Associate Area Agent, ANR/Ag Literacy for the University of Arizona, teachers participate in this weeklong program because they "really see the purpose of a hands-on education."

"They feel that agriculture is a way to do that," Pastor said. "And they can use the examples they learn when teaching other things, such as math."

Though a product of the University of Arizona, the tour is funded by the Arizona Foundation for Agricultural Literacy, which receives donations from across the state from the agriculture community, Pastor said.

Not only is money donated to help make this program a success, but various sponsors and partners such as the Groseta family donate their time each year. For the second time, the W Dart Ranch has participated in the tour. To Andy Groseta, participating in the university's program is an opportunity to "share with the teachers about agriculture in Arizona."

"We want to educate our teachers who educate our children where our food comes from," he said. "A lot of people think food comes from the grocery store. It's produced on a farm. From the time a calf hits the ground until it becomes a steak, it passes through many hands."

The Summer Agricultural Institute - SAI - is an interactive five-day tour that educates Arizona educators on food and fiber production in Arizona, so they can integrate that knowledge in the classroom. According to Mary Beth Groseta, planting the seed of interest in teachers can help the students "become further ahead."

Partners for the Summer Agriculture Institute include the Arizona Beef Council, Arizona Dairy Producers, Arizona Farm Bureau, Arizona Department of Education, Arizona Department of Agriculture, Arizona Cowbelles and the Yavapai Cowbelles, who helped serve lunch Tuesday at W Dart Ranch.

"Our goal is to talk with people, to educate them about beef," said Tiffany Selchow, Director of Social Marketing and Consumer Outreach for the Arizona Beef Council. "It's so fun to see everybody when they come here."

Teach them well

"The microcosm of a farm itself and how it supports itself - making it a sustainable practice," is what most impressed Aubrey Castleberry, an eighth grade teacher at Glassford Hill Middle School in Prescott Valley. "All sorts of amenities here lead to the production of cows."

According to Goodyear resident Maryann Davis, Arizona "has a lot to offer."

Davis, now working full-time toward her doctorate in leadership and teaching from Grand Canyon University, first learned about the Summer Agriculture Institute's annual tour when she was surfing the web.

"When I was accepted, I jumped up and down with glee," Davis said. "This gives me more knowledge about Arizona. This is an amazing state."

To 15-year-old Ali Fahy, the Summer Agriculture Institute is "a really cool learning experience." Ali, a student at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe and an intern for Monica Pastor, said the tour had already taught her "a different side of agriculture that I wouldn't see in the classroom."

For a career, Ali said she would like to do "something in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to help people with disabilities."

The weeklong tour also scheduled stops at agricultural operations in Buckeye, Chino Valley, Dewey and Paulden, as well as a daytrip to the University of Arizona's research farm.

For more information about the annual Summer Agriculture Institute tour, contact Monica Pastor at mpastor@cals.arizona.edu.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42 and on Facebook at @CampVerdeBugle

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