Lincoln High FFA helps Camp Fire animals

By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Volunteers helping Camp Fire victims have collected donations, made delivery runs and fed hundreds of people. Lincoln High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) club members went to Butte County and did the dirty work.

Lincoln High School agriculture teacher Mike Trueblood took seven FFA students to the Butte County Fairgrounds in Gridley to help care for animals belonging to Camp Fire victims. The students cleaned stalls and fed animals Nov. 19 during their Thanksgiving break.

“Gridley FFA took the lead and put out an open schedule for other chapters to come help,” Trueblood said Tuesday. “We will probably take another group of students up this weekend. The kids had a pretty good feeling about it.”

The students wanted to do something that would help, according to Trueblood.

“There are plenty of barbecues and dinners going on,” Trueblood said. “We were helping another FFA chapter with something we could do. One of the workers there complimented our kids, saying, ‘They know how to work.’”

“We were up there for two hours cleaning stalls and feeding the animals,” Trueblood added. “We were getting ready to leave when someone asked if we had a few more minutes. They needed help putting tarp on stacks of donated hay to protect it from rain. We were there until well after dark and the kids felt like they had helped.”

Two of Trueblood’s students, seniors Adriana Diaz and Mary Elias, both 17, said working with the rescued livestock was heartwarming.

Elias returned three more times during her holiday.

“It was really important,” Elias said. “There were 400-plus animals: cows, goats, pigs and horses. We cleaned a lot of pens and fed a lot of animals.”

“Cleaning pens helps prevent disease. It’s more important than people think,” Elias added. “My pets are my babies and that’s how I treated those animals. It’s a lot of responsibility and very rewarding.”

Diaz said she felt good about giving back to the community.

“This is the first place I’ve lived where I’ve seen such a community response,” Diaz said. “It was really heartwarming to see animals reunited with their owners and the animals’ faces too. It was definitely worth the work we put in.”

Elias was impressed with the work that volunteer veterinarians were doing.

“They kept great records, down to feeding times and bowel movements,” Elias said. “It is a huge effort and they really needed us. New animals are coming in every day and the empty pens have to be clean.”

Elias liked getting to know the other volunteers and Diaz liked seeing how much people cared about the animals.

Animals not yet identified were off limits for petting, according to the seniors.

“It hurt my heart we couldn’t give them pets,” Elias said. “We were asked not to touch many of the animals. I would like to find the time to go back.”

The other FFA students helping were Emma Diaz, Abigail Hockett, Holly Hockett, Stevie Utterback and Haley Weygandt.