Members of the Santa Maria High School FFA groom a sheep in preparation for this week’s Santa Barbara County Fair. (Santa Maria Joint Union High School District photo)

Months of hard work by more than 170 members of the Santa Maria High School FFA will culminate at the 2015 Santa Barbara County Fair, opening Wednesday and running through Sunday.

“The county fair is an amazing experience that allows FFA members to compete with their projects,’’ SMHS FFA Chapter President Jorge Gonzalez said. “It also allows members to advocate about agriculture education and show them (fairgoers) the true value of what agriculture is to the community and the rest of the world.’’

The FFA students have been busy washing and prepping animals and setting up barn displays, according to SMHS agriculture teacher Clemente Ayon.

“Some are harvesting vegetables and some are putting the finishing touches to the Ag Mechanic projects, which they will proudly display during the fair,’’ Ayon added. “Fair week will give students a chance to continue to learn about agriculture and develop lifelong memories they can share with future generations.’’

Members who exhibit winning market livestock animals at the fair (goats, steers, beef heifers, swine, lambs, turkeys, rabbits and chickens) will sell their projects at the annual fair Junior Livestock Auction on Friday and Saturday. They also will compete in the Livestock Championship Drive, which will pit the best of the best for the coveted purple ribbons. Champions are chosen in each livestock division.

This year, more than 1,450 FFA, 4-H, Junior Grange and independent junior show persons will be exhibiting animals at the fair. In addition, a variety of non-livestock projects will be presented.

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District has more than 1,500 FFA members at Santa Maria, Pioneer Valley and Righetti high schools. The SMHS FFA has more than 900 members, according Shannon Powell, who is with the school’s Agricultural Department.

— Kenny Klein is a public information officer for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.