- Grants &
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Jamie Johansson grows olives, specialty citrus and has a few egg laying hens in Oroville, California, where he lives with his wife, two sons and one daughter. He operates an olive oil company called Lodestar Farms. Jamie is a co-founder of the Sierra Oro Farm Trail Association and a former board member of the California Olive Oil Council. He currently serves as the first vice president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. Jamie is dedicated to his community, where he has served on the Oroville City Council and as vice mayor.
"I just learned recently... that the diversity of crops grown in California has doubled in the last 25 years. You never stop learning about California agriculture."
Craig Thomson currently serves as the executive vice president, responsible for leading the overall operation of Zenith AgriBusiness Solutions, a division of Zenith Insurance Company. Prior to joining Zenith, Craig was the VP of Marketing & Sales for Nationwide Agribusiness in Des Moines, Iowa. Craig served as the past Chairman of the Board for "Living History Farms" in Des Moines, Iowa and has been working with Ag in the Classroom for the last 20 years. "Each time I see a student’s face light up when they make a connection to how their food and fiber is produced, it confirms that agriculture should be an integral part of classroom instruction," says Craig. Craig has served on the board since November, 2010.
Mark Dawson grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where his only experience with agriculture was in kindergarten when a farmer brought his cow to school to show students where milk came from. Mark joined the California Farm Bureau Federation in 2013, where he serves as the Secretary/Treasurer. He lives in Folsom, California, with his wife, son and youngest daughter. Mark volunteers each year at the California Agriculture in the Classroom Conference. He enjoys seeing the light bulb turn on when teachers at the conference realize how important agriculture is to the state and how many great materials are provided free of charge.
"If I could teach a third grader one thing... it would be that California farmers not only grow our food; they feed the rest of the nation and the world."
Martha Deichler was a science and garden teacher when she first fell in love with Ag in the Classroom. She saw first-hand the joy in students’ eyes as they grew, harvested, and ate their own food. Through the Summer Ag Institute, she came to understand the role California plays in producing fruits, nuts and vegetables for the world. Martha currently serves as the superintendent for Borrego Springs Unified School District. With more than three decades of experience in the public education, Martha brings a myriad of experience and a contagious passion to the board.
"I serve because... I see how passionate we all are about appreciating the valuable work of the farmer and sharing that passion with our future decision makers, our students."
Debbie Jacobsen is a third-generation farmer in Easton, California, and a dedicated advocate for agriculture and education. She has been knee-deep in agriculture, specifically grapes, all of her life. Debbie and her family were the owners and operators of J&L Vineyards, where they hosted many teachers and their students over the years. She has served in leadership roles and committees, and she is the past president of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, former board member and Finance Committee Chair of the California Farm Bureau Federation and currently serves as president of the Fresno District Fair board. She and her husband have three children and two grandsons.
"I serve because... every child should know and understand where their food comes from and who is feeding and clothing them. They can’t know what they are not introduced to."
Rick Phillips grew up on his family’s farm in Idaho. He is proud to represent Simplot as their Manager of Public Affairs and representative to agricultural literacy throughout the United States. He works on behalf of Simplot as the regional representative for the Nutrients for Life. Rick is an avid Rotarian, having recently served as the regional president. He has been married for 36 years and has 5 children and 14 grandchildren.
"I serve because... California’s Ag in the Classroom program is considered to be the premier program of its kind in the U.S., in large part because California agriculture is in a world of its own."
Jane Roberti farms with her husband Dave in Loyalton, California, where they grow alfalfa. Jane discovered the need for agriculture in classroom when she attended the first San Francisco Farm Day in the early ‘80s. She remembers students asking “how do pigs lay bacon?” and also had a teacher tell her students that cotton comes from the lamb her brother was shearing. Her passion continues as she works locally to help students learn where their food comes from. She supports her local fair with the same dedication and enthusiasm for agricultural literacy.
"One of my favorite memories of teaching agriculture... is when the kindergarteners and first graders would try new fruits and vegetables and then go home and tell their parents."
Kenny Watkins is a fifth-generation farmer and rancher, who raises beef cattle, cherries, peaches and hay with his brother. He lives in Linden, California, with his wife and two children. Kenny’s entire family enjoys teaching others about agriculture through participating in leadership roles, classroom visits and livestock shows. His daughter, Elisabeth has even demonstrated her cooking expertise and love for agriculture as a competitor on The Food Network, where she recently became a Chopped Junior Champion.
"I serve because... I believe the key place to educate the public about agriculture is in the classroom, starting with the teachers, then, providing students with experiences and knowledge that will last a lifetime."