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Centennial students get up-close look at Southwest Ag Summit

“Many students believe science is difficult and only happens in a squeaky clean lab,” says Stefanie Littlewood-Moody. But the Centennial Middle School science teacher wanted to show her students that science is more than just that image: it can be earthy and dirty, too.

Twenty students from Centennial had the exciting opportunity to attend the 2022 Southwest Ag Summit at Arizona Western College on Feb. 23. After having been invited by Heidi Jones of Yuma Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC) along with several other middle schools, Littlewood-Moody shared that 10 eighth-grade students from her class and 10 from Karla Jones’ class were picked for the trip based on their interests in pursuing careers in agriculture.

Littlewood-Moody was especially excited to show them science being applied in real life and witnessing their curiosity and wonder.

“When students were learning about pH, we went out and tested the pH of the soil as well as the water that we were using,” she said. “When I explained that that was an actual job, they realized that they, too, could be in the science career field. Science careers can be out in a field testing crops, testing water, soil, fertilizers [and] even experimenting to find ways to produce a better yield.”

For her students, there was plenty to enjoy, but their favorite part was the AWC tour given by Matador Ambassador Jazmin. When they arrived at the 3C Building where students can register for classes, talk to counselors and sort through financial aid, the students were ecstatic to learn about classes and everything pertaining to getting started.

“To me, it is important to bring students to AWC to get comfortable in that surrounding so that if they do decide to go to school, they already feel comfortable there,” Littlewood-Moody said. “My husband practically grew up at NAU in Flagstaff so when it was time for him to go to school, it wasn’t even a second thought. He knew he would go there. I have so many ideas and things that I want to prep for more fields trips and tours.”

On the agricultural side, students had a great time at the greenhouse. Caleb Gillispie, an agriculture teacher at Cibola High School, explained the process and ongoing projects happening in the greenhouse.

“They asked so many great questions and even asked if we could build a small one at our school,” she said. “I might work on that next year[!]”

The students received romaine, cauliflower, cabbage and celery transplants from Keithly-Williams Seeds and were also impressed with the fields. Gillispie explained more about disking soil after harvesting crops, devices and tractors used and the entire farm process. Students were also impressed to learn that crops grown in the fields they saw are given to the food bank.

“They got a lot more out of it than what I was expecting,” Littlewood-Moody said. “When we got back, one student was telling the other students about all the programs AWC offered. I heard about it from teachers saying that the students were expressing their gratitude and spreading the word about AWC and also about the science that is happening there.”

Now with plenty more ideas for the future inspired by the Ag Summit, Littlewood-Moody and her students are thankful for the invitation from Yuma ABEC and Heidi Jones.

Sisko J. Stargazer can be reached at 928-539-6849 or

ABEC Yuma County Locations

Centennial Middle School

2650 W 20th St, Yuma, AZ 85364

(928) 373-3300

Crane Middle School

4450 W 32nd St, Yuma, AZ 85364

(928) 373-3200

Castle Dome Middle School

2353 Otondo Dr, Yuma, AZ 85365

(928) 502-7300

Fourth Avenue Jr. High School

450 S 4th Ave, Yuma, AZ 85364

(928) 502-7000

Gila Vista Jr. High School

2245 S Arizona Ave, Yuma, AZ 85365

(928) 502-7100

Gowan Science Academy

1020 S Avenue C, Yuma, AZ 85364

(928) 539-1200

Ron Watson Middle School

9851 E 28th St, Yuma, AZ 85365

(928) 502-7400

R Pete Woodard Junior High School

2250 S 8th Ave, Yuma, AZ 85364

(928) 502-7200

San Luis Middle School

1135 Main St, San Luis, AZ 85349

(928) 627-6920

Southwest Junior High School

963 8th Ave, San Luis, AZ 85349

(928) 627-6580