County’s Ag in the Classroom program gets a boost
El Dorado County Ag in the Classroom has been awarded a Specialty Crop Block Grant by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to enhance Ag in the Classroom’s agricultural-based education programs in the El Dorado County region.
Through a highly competitive process, Ag in the Classroom was selected to receive $154,924 over a two-year period to expand specialty crop education for kindergarten through 12th-grade students and teachers.
The grant funds the expansion of existing programs and several new initiatives:
• The Fields of Learning school/farm partnership program will grow by creating six new school/farm partnerships and piloting a program with Ponderosa High School FFA to train high school students as FOL field assistants, providing FFA students an opportunity to share their agricultural knowledge in a leadership role.
• Two new pilot programs: South Lake Tahoe Farm Day and “Ag Day” field trips for children and mentors in the local Big Sisters and Big Brothers program, will introduce students to the importance of local specialty crops and the concepts of healthy food choices.
• Ag in the Classroom’s multi-day Teachers’ Ag Summer Institute (TASI) will be expanded to include two tracks: one for K-8 teachers and one for high school teachers, providing local educators with an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the role of specialty crops in contributing the health of people, community and the environment.
“We are grateful to the California Department of Food Agriculture for providing this tremendous opportunity to build on the success of our programs and increase awareness of the importance of agriculture in our lives,” said Joyce Joy, president of the EDCAITC Board of Directors. “We appreciate Ag in the Classroom’s many community partners, including agricultural producers, local schools, EDC Office of Education, UC Davis Cooperative Extension, Ponderosa High School FFA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the EDC Farm Bureau, who make these projects possible.”
El Dorado County Ag in the Classroom received a multi-year Specialty Crop Block Grant Program award from CDFA in 2008. CDFA receives funding for this grant program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its Agricultural Marketing Service. Specialty crops make up over 60% of agricultural production in El Dorado County and include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, wine grapes, Christmas trees and horticulture.
As a local, grassroots nonprofit organization, Ag in the Classroom offers students and educators opportunities to learn about agriculture in context of local farms, ranches, vineyards and forests.