All the freshly sprouted kindergartners of Kristine Seeley’s class soaked up the pumpkin life cycle lesson, offered by Tonto Basin rancher Cassie Lyman.

“The next time you grow a pumpkin, try growing it in a mold,” said Lyman. “We had a pumpkin that decided to grow up through the fence and got stuck. Pumpkins will take the shape of the mold you have them grow into.”

She then showed the kindergartners a picture of the errant pumpkin.

Lyman is both a rancher and the president of the Gila County Chapter of the Farm Bureau. She spends hours volunteering in Payson’s classrooms teaching the little ones about plant life cycles and farm life through programs supported by the Farm Bureau.

All of the lessons serve as part of the Arizona state curriculum.

As an added bonus, the high school agriculture/FFA students help her out allowing the little ones to see how they might evolve as they mature.

Lyman read a book that followed the pumpkin from seed to full grown orange orb.

After story time, Lyman had the students color and cut out two wheels with the different cycles of the pumpkin.

She said she will be back to talk about dairy (they do ice cream in a bag) and then how they take care of the land on Earth Day.

“We’re teaching accurate agricultural science and STEM concepts,” said Lyman.

Contact the reporter at

contact the reporter at: mnelson@payson.com

I cover education, families, courts, non-profits, environmental and investigative reporting

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