Fair time is summer fun time for the three FFAs from the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.

Several hundred FFA (Future Farmers of America) members from Santa Maria, Ernest Righetti and Pioneer Valley high schools are participating with a slew of animals. They are competing individually and as chapters with livestock, feature booths, showmanship and other contests.

The Santa Barbara County Fair, a community tradition, operates July 9-13 at the Santa Maria Fairpark.

District FFAers have spent countless hours since early this year to care and show off their sheep, goats, swine, beef cattle, rabbits, turkeys and chickens. Projects include floral and vegetables, agricultural mechanics, welding and landscape. Each school also has a feature booth designed engage their idea of what the FFA means to them and to the Santa Maria Valley.

PVHS FFA advisor Hector Guerra believes the contests give young people a head start on mastering invaluable life skills.

“Students invest their time, money and along the way are expected to manage to still be kids!” Guerra said. “These summer FFA projects are more than a class project, they are a gateway to a future full of leadership that was molded in the FFA and will follow you everywhere.”

ERHS FFA advisor Miguel Guerra knows the students are soaking up the knowledge.

“It’s not about getting paid. … It’s about commitment and responsibility,” Guerra said. “They are learning about about genetics, nutrition, care, management and much more.”

The SMHS FFA will also be raising money with their parking lot, which is on Thornburg Street. The $5 fee supports the program, according to Amanda Rodriguez of the school’s agricultural department.

SMJUHSD has more than 1,500 FFA members.

— Kenny Klein is a media affairs coordinator for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.