Youth Barn, Keeping Agricultural in our Community

Youth Barn, Keeping Agricultural in our Community

Have you ever walked through our Livestock Pavilion at Fair and seen the hard working kids taking care of the animals? My family would come to the Pavilion to see the animals and watch the judging every year. As an animal crazy kid I was always intrigued but I never understood the how or why! Fast forward, some 30 years later and here I am working at our amazing Fair! I have learned the how and why as well as the importance of keeping Agriculture in our community.

In today’s suburban lifestyle, raising animals or even having a garden can be problematic. Space is limited and while there are amazing advances in vertical, hydroponic and small space gardening….you cannot raise a pig or a cow on the balcony. Many of our local communities have now adopted certain ordinances that allow for a few chickens, maybe some bees, front yard gardening and local community gardens. But, what about those who want to raise sheep, pigs, goats and cows? How do we keep our local Alameda County FFA and 4-H clubs going in a suburban environment?

Well, thanks to some amazing donors who wanted all Alameda County FFA and 4-H club members to have the opportunity to raise animals for the Junior Livestock Show at the Fair each year, that dream is now a reality.

The Marissa Hunt Agricultural Education Center, also known as the “Youth Barn,” officially opened on March 7, 2019. The brand new, 8,000 square foot facility, located on Fairgrounds’ property, houses up to 80 animals and offers a modern classroom, wash racks, outdoor paddock, livestock scale, restrooms and industrial size fans. The building was named in honor of Marissa Hunt, an Alameda County 4-H’er whose life was tragically cut short in 2004.

This project’s mission is to preserve and promote Alameda County’s rich agricultural heritage and I could not be more proud of our involvement in making that happen for our future ag leaders.