FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --An acre of land behind Kearney Park is a field of dreams when it comes to higher education and success for a group of students in Southwest Fresno. Tuesday morning several groups including West Fresno Family Resource Center and Fresno State gathered to celebrate the Sweet Potato Project.
"They even have an opportunity to have a sneak preview into the future. The opportunity to maybe be a student at Fresno State. The opportunity to maybe one day be a business owner but we have to plant that seed now," said Yolanda Randles, West Fresno Family Resource Center.
The idea behind the program is to teach at-risk youth about leadership and entrepreneurial skills along with business and agriculture. That's where Fresno State gets involved. The group of about a dozen students took a six-week course this summer at the school's Lyles Business Center.
"We prepare the next generation of leaders in agriculture. And we want to strengthen our connection with all of the students in the Central Valley, but especially those in West Fresno," said Dr. Joseph Castro, Fresno State President.
Fresno State President Doctor Joseph Castro knew of the project and wanted to show support. He sees that this group of students is focused on their future.
"The feeling that too many of them are not graduating from high school and are not achieving their full potential. And so we saw this as a way to get them focused on a career."
Students worked every Thursday in the classroom to come up with a website, marketing plan, and a product to sell. Which in this case is a sweet potato muffin.
The land was donated by the African American Farmers Association and back in May the crop of sweet potatoes was planted. Students worked in the fields every Saturday.
"We had to dig holes, put the little slips in the ground, and we had to plant it and water it and stuff. And tend to it and pull out the weeds and everything. It was really hard but it paid off in the end," said Jihad Arafi, student.
The crop will ready for harvest in October and donated to local charities.