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Escondido high School senior Taite Tephabock holds up one of the baby goats raised on the school's farm. Photo by Samantha Nelson
Escondido high School senior Taite Tephabock holds up one of the baby goats raised on the school's farm. Photo by Samantha Nelson
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Escondido High’s Winter Wonderland hosts holiday fun on the farm

ESCONDIDO — Escondido High School’s Winter Wonderland returned with Santa, goats and lots of goodies for sale at the school’s farm over the weekend. 

Winter Wonderland is one of several events the agricultural department students organize throughout the school year to raise money and interest in the work they do on the six-acre farmstead. 

Students welcomed the community with an array of Christmas lights, produce for sale that they grew, floral arrangements and wreaths that they created, and an assortment of other goods like tamales, pozole, bread, and pies, washed down with champurrado (a warm Mexican beverage made with chocolate, corn flour, milk, sugar and cinnamon) and hot chocolate.

Santa and his elves also made a guest appearance at Winter Wonderland along with a few baby goats in Christmas sweaters at the event’s petting zoo. Students raise the goats along with other livestock including chickens, pigs and cattle right there on the farm.

Winter Wonderland has come a long way since it started two years ago when the event was a drive-thru fundraiser due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the restrictions, the event still went well and kept the Future Farmers of America students involved.

Escondido High School senior Lelahnie Manzano works with baby goats in the petting zoo at the school's Winter Wonderland event on Dec. 3 in Escondido. Photo by Samantha Nelson
Escondido High School senior Lelahnie Manzano works with baby goats in the petting zoo at the school’s Winter Wonderland event on Dec. 3 in Escondido. Photo by Samantha Nelson

All of the work planning and organizing Winter Wonderland is part of the fun for FFA students.

“The kids get really into it,” said teacher Marc Reyburn. “They love giving back to their community and working with the younger kids.”

For Kelsey Hoeffliger, a junior at Escondido High and FFA officer, organizing Winter Wonderland, October’s Pumpkin Fest and other festive events is all about forging new memories, friendships and leadership skills while giving back to the community. 

“You grow amazing friends and amazing memories,” Hoeffliger said.

Sophomore and fellow FFA officer Georgia Borland noted the event is great for showing younger students who are reluctant to get involved at first what they’re missing out on. 

“Once the first years see all the fun, we wrangle them in,” Borland said.

Students like Hoeffliger and Borland consider themselves fortunate to have such a sizable Future Farmers of America program. 

Escondido High School boasts one of the largest high school agriculture programs in Southern California with a large farm on campus, largely unheard of for most schools in the region.

“It’s the coolest classroom a student could have,” Reyburn said.