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California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom

2022-2023 Literacy for Life Grant Recipients

  • Carrie Robertson, Outstanding Educator

    "Urban Worms: Food Waste Warriors"

    Paul Revere Middle School LAUSD, Los Angeles County

    "Urban Worms: Food Waste Warriors": Our vermiculture composting project will create and sustain a miniature food waste recycling system in a central location at our school farm. Students have identified food waste as a major issue on our campus, and our district has recently created a "Climate Literacy Committee" at each site of teachers and parents. Cafeteria food is packaged in predetermined serving sizes, and students are forced to take all parts of the meal, even if they do not want the food. There is a large amount of items thrown out each day. We’ve identified an area with the perfect growing conditions for worms and food recycling. The worms will live in a series of three stackable wooden frames, approximately 3 foot by 5 foot, each with a wire mesh bottom and interlocking walls. As the worms consume materials, the three levels can be rotated to maximize production. At the base will be two large plastic tubs to collect the liquid material from the bins. The bins back up to our goat pen, surrounded by a chain link fence, with large trees overhead, and next to the cold compost portion of our farm we call the "rot zone". In other words, the worms will connect with other recycling and compost efforts already in place. On the fence behind the worms, we’ll install educational signage to show worm anatomy, and how vermicomposting works.

    This little project won’t solve all the food waste issues in our world, but we can show students the process required to turn food waste into "black gold"!

    Number of students reached: 288 Grade: 6-8
  • Aimee Snell

    "Egg Layer Operation"

    Delta Charter High School, San Joaquin County

    My project is to start an egg layer operation by starting from scratch with incubating fertile eggs in the classroom. The project will begin by first teaching students what is needed to start and maintain a small scale egg laying operation. Next, students will incubate fertile eggs in the classroom. Each day, students will candle the eggs to visually see the development of each embryo in the egg. Students will record the observable data on data sheets. While the eggs are incubating, students will prepare the hen house on campus for future egg layers. Once the eggs have been hatched, students will take a quiz on hatching eggs in the classroom. While the hatching eggs in the classroom portion will only be between 1 and 30 days, the egg layer operation will be something that Delta Charter FFA will continue to have to host SAE opportunities and chapter development.

    Number of students reached: 10 Grade: 9-12
  • Alejandra Hernandez

    "Name that Veggie"

    Capistrano Avenue Elementary School, Los Angeles County

    Every year I am surprised to see how many students do not know what vegetables are, whether it’s their names, texture, or taste. I will teach a health unit that explores the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. With this grant money, I’ll purchase vegetables for the children to observe, taste, and study. I will follow up with teaching students where the vegetables come from and how they are grown.

    Number of students reached: 25 Grade: 2
  • Amy Dennis

    "School Garden"

    Elbow Creek School, Tulare County

    We are a title one school with remains of a garden from long ago. Weeds and gophers had taken over. The majority of our student population sees agriculture in some form every day, but many have never truly experienced it. This grant will help us get our school garden up and running again; giving the students experience in the life they are currently submerged in yet whom many have not experienced. Each grade level will be able to go out and learn about plant and life science from a hands-on perspective and be excited about agriculture! Students will also learn about potential job opportunities that are already at their fingertips in agriculture.

    Number of students reached: 22 Grade: 1
  • Ben Vallejo

    "Organic Chemistry: Cleanly Growing Foods and Spices for our Food Chemistry Labs"

    Canoga Park High School, Los Angeles County

    Junior and senior chemistry students will learn about environmental soil chemistry and requirements for germination while preparing seeds and seedlings for growth in our classroom greenhouse. Plants will then be transferred to student-designed and student constructed portable planter boxes, where students will grow the vegetables and spices to be used in our food chemistry laboratory activities during the spring semester. A culminating activity will be to use the student-grown items to make and eat pizza, using vegetables and spices that they have grown themselves.

    Number of students reached: 220 Grade: 9-12 and College
  • Carrie Cook

    "Classroom Hydroponics"

    Cypress Elementary, Trinity County

    Our school garden is in our classroom! Last year we added a hydroponics tower to our classroom. We grew plants in our classroom with one rectangular grow light and what light was received from our BIG classroom windows. We saw significant differences in growth related to light access. This year, we are adding grow lights that fit our hydroponics tower. This will allow more learning opportunities and the students to see their garden grow at its fullest potential.

    Number of students reached: 31 Grade: 4
  • Gorett Griego

    "Say Cheese!"

    Pioneer Elementary, Merced County

    All second graders will visit Hilmar Cheese Factory! Students will watch, "The Cheese Theatre Show," and watch employees package "Big Cheese" (640-pound crates of cheese). The interactive exhibits use multiple senses, activities, and skills to learn about the technology on today’s dairy farms, how farmers care for cows, careers in agriculture, recycling and the health benefits of dairy. The educational tour includes an actual hands-on ice cream making activity. Each student makes his/her own ice cream during a lesson that integrates science, math, and reading while developing listening and direction following skills. A food safety theme is emphasized and at the end, each student will enjoy his/her own personally created ice cream sample.

    Number of students reached: 24 Grade: 2
  • Jade Vasconcellos

    ""Grounded"- Creating Soil through Composting"

    Peters Canyon Elementary, Orange County

    Our school currently has a garden space; however, it has not been cared for and we are looking to transform and revive it. Our program will focus on creating a healthy growing environment for our students to eventually cultivate produce and plants to sell at a monthly farmers market which in turn will sustain the growth of the garden. Our goal for the 2022-2023 school year is to clean out the existing garden to its bare bones and create a healthy environment that is ready for growth next year. Students will learn about living soil, permaculture, and sustainable stewardship through composting, and husbandry of a productive garden. The students will implement and tend to two different composting processes; germy compost and wormy compost. We will implement the project in three phases: Phase 1: Clean out the existing garden, Phase 2: Build composting space, Phase 3: Build soil biome through composting.

    Number of students reached: 15 Grade: 2-4
  • Jelisa Ferrell

    "Farm Day"

    Aspire College Academy, Alameda County

    2-5 grade level students will visit an actual farm in the Bay Area. My scholars are inner city kids who are underserved and come from marginalized communities. We are a Title 1 school with 93% of our students on free and reduced lunch so, there are very few opportunities to become agriculturally literate. This field trip to the farm will be eye opening and help get kids excited about environmental science! We will be going to the Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont.

    Number of students reached: 100 Grade: 4 and 5
  • Jennifer Dobbie Epley

    "Feel Good Tea Garden"
    Isbell Middle School, Ventura County

    My students and I will create a garden that they can use as a refuge, a place of inspiration, a place to connect with their culture, and a place to learn how to grow and create beautifully scented items (sachets, pillows, stress balls), and create their own tea blends. Students will read and research through books and the internet, as well as connecting to community members who make teas as part of a cultural practice, and who make naturally scented goods as part of the practice of wellness.

    Number of students reached: 30 Grade: 6-8

  • Jennifer Kinloch

    "Eco-Lab: Automatic Watering System"

    Ridgeview Elementary, Placer County

    Our school has an ecology focus. Each grade level has, or is in the process of creating a STEAM project based on ecology. In 6th grade, we have an outdoor science lab that we call the Eco-Lab. In the lab, we grow, study, and take data on various plants. We have a student driven composting program, and we are self-funded. It has been very difficult for teachers to maintain the watering of the lab over the weekends and holidays when school is not in session. This project will allow us to add an automatic watering system that we could control remotely. Watering our plants is a top priority, since we need them to be alive and healthy when we are doing our Eco-Lab projects.

    Number of students reached: 31 Grade: 6
  • Jessica Eves

    "Growing Readers in the Garden and Cooking Classroom"

    Darnall Charter School, San Diego County

    As the Garden and Cooking Educator, I teach garden and cooking lessons to TK-8 grade students in our Garden Classroom. I use the Wild Wisdom Curriculum created by the Sage Garden Project. Their curriculum includes ideas of using connected literature to help build prior knowledge before students learn in the Garden Classroom. This grant will allow us to add these books to our classroom. I have already started recording myself reading the books using a document camera and uploading them to Youtube. Then classroom teachers can either play the recorded video to the whole class or assign it as an independent reading activity. I have received so much positive feedback from teachers and students about the recorded reading of the books I have and my lessons run more smoothly with students coming prepared with some knowledge of the lesson. This grant will allow us to grow our library.

    Number of students reached: 480 Grade: TK-8 and 12
  • Julie Cates

    "Linwood Eagles-Space Farmers!"

    Linwood Elementary, Tulare County

    This year’s project expands last year’s project, #NuggetsOnMar Ca Style. We are asking students to design a poultry harvesting operation on Mars. The scope of this project includes studies of the water cycle, plant growth requirements, chicken life cycles, cell development, meat production, and the limitations of agriculture on earth and in space. We are adding an aquaponic component, as last year’s students investigated protein supplements for chickens, inquiring about "growing" them alongside the plants needed to sustain poultry. This project educates students about the complexities involved in agriculture and ignites their curiosity and problem solving abilities sustaining agriculture in space, which undoubtedly will occur in their lifetimes. We registered for a Citizen Science Project with NASA and Fairchild Botanical replicating the Space Station’s "Veggie" system. Exploring why crops grow successfully where they do, especially California’s 400 specialty crops, promotes inquiry, sustainability methodology, and the Interstellar aspect has Universal possibilities!

    Number of students reached: 60 Grade: 1 and 6
  • Kim Needham

    "Growing on Strong Ground"

    Elbow Creek Elementary School, Tulare County

    Last year, 75-1st graders and 3 teachers gave our school garden, Growing on Strong Ground, some life. It had been sitting vacant for many years. Six- and seven-year-old students shoveled, hoed, raked, pulled weeds, and picked up trash. Vegetables and flowers were planted; however, the gophers did not get the memo! They were having a feast! So, this year we have decided to remove all the soil, lay chicken wire, and then add nutritious soil back into the 9-10'x3' beds. Students will learn how to mix garden soil so we can have better control of its contents. We also know that water is a big issue in agriculture, and we want our students to be aware of this problem. Therefore, will add proper amendments to increase the water-holding capacity and instill water conservation into the minds of our students.

    Number of students reached: 22 Grade: 1
  • Kim Eselekhomhen

    "Planting our Roots"

    Sutter Middle School, Sacramento County

    In this project based learning unit, students will begin by reading the novel, "Seedfolks", about strangers who learn about one another's culture and become friends when they establish a community garden. Students will research and share their own culture and agricultural concepts along the way. As they research, they will identify a garden plant that represents their own heritage, that they would like to plant in the garden. Writing in this unit will include poetry, ("I Am" poems, including their plant and heritage), Informational Essay, (Instructions on planting and care of their plant), and Argumentative Essay, (Explaining how their plant best represents their culture , or other prompt). Finally, we hope to have funds from this grant to actually carry out planting the crops in the school garden with our Garden Club, an art component, and sharing with the school community on Open House Night in the spring!

    Number of students reached: 175 Grade: 8
  • Lumina Lagos-Alex

    "Our Farm Visit"

    Maxson Elementary School, Los Angeles County

    Sixth graders will go on a field trip to a working farm. They will see what we have learned about regarding various agricultural concepts from studying Ancient Civilizations; such as: irrigation, planting, crop surplus, etc. This project will enhance agricultural literacy immensely. My students will become first hand witnesses of the agricultural process. They would then be able to get these thoughts onto paper in various types of writings that branch out into multimedia projects.

    Number of students reached: 32 Grade: 6
  • Maria Elena Navarro

    "All Souls School Pollinator Garden Project"

    All Souls World Language Catholic School, Los Angeles County

    All Souls World Language Catholic School (All Souls) will expand the pollinator garden to attract and sustain beneficial insects and promote green environments for the students to learn. The Student Garden Committee will work to expand the butterfly habitat and develop a school wide butterfly release in the spring of 2023. The All Souls pollinator garden was created to promote an ecologically sustainable garden that is both beautiful and essential for attracting beneficial insects, encourages environmental stewardship among the students, and allows for hands-on learning experiences.

    Number of students reached: 40 Grade: TK-8
  • Matthew Avila

    "Experiments for Ag"

    Atascadero Middle School, San Luis Obispo County

    Atascadero Middle School is creating an agriculture elective to provide activities and lessons that engage and excite students about the MANY aspects of agriculture, ranging from plants and animals to food science and even mechanics. Access to more hands on activities will incite more excitement amongst my students, and drive more interest in agriculture.

    Number of students reached: 18 Grade: 8
  • Paula Egermeier

    "Build a Chicken Coop with Roosts and Nesting Boxes"

    Monte Vista School Independent Learning Academy, Ventura County

    Our project is to expand and rebuild our chicken coop. Currently our students learn about different chicken breeds, how to handle and care for them, and raise laying hens for egg production. We started our chicken coop and run about seven years ago. Our original coop was made for three or four hens; it now needs replacing due to the wear. Our coop has grown and we now keep 30 hens year round on the school grounds. When we have extra eggs, we sell them to our local community to help cover the costs of feed. Our eggs have become popular with our school families as well as our local community.

    Number of students reached: 100 Grade: K-12
  • Reid Gromis

    "Food Skyscrapers"

    Roosevelt High School, Fresno County

    Food Skyscrapers are Vertical Edible Gardens designed and constructed by students out of 4" and 1" PVC pipe, a PVC endcap, landscaping fabric, gravel, soil and various fruits and vegetables. Students will collaborate in teams to design, construct, and maintain their gardens. The vertical gardens will be secured to various spaces around campus and regularly maintained by the club’s members. At the end of the school year, actively participating students will take the gardens home to be installed, maintained and harvested as examples of urban agriculture, resourcefulness, and good nutrition for their family and local neighborhoods.

    Number of students reached: 175 Grade: 9-12
  • Rose Lewis

    "Etiwanda Community Supported Agriculture"

    Etiwanda High School, San Bernardino County

    Etiwanda High School will expand our small school garden into a Micro Farm, where students will use the produce and eggs they grow in farm-to-table cooking classes, to support our local community. We will implement an Etiwanda Farm Stand CSA program that provides local organic produce and eggs to the community at large. Being able to apply their learning to hands-on small-scale farming practices would mean exposure to real life careers, and give them the chance to practice the science and art of fixing our broken food system and apply real hands-on agricultural science that can combat the climate crisis.

    Number of students reached: 170 Grade: 9-12
  • Sara Oaks

    "From Seed to Table: Growing Healthy Choices"

    Louis Vandermolen Fundamental Elementary School, Riverside County

    This grant will allow us to set up a wheelchair-accessible set of raised garden beds in an underused section of our school grounds. This project will give my Moderate-Severe Special Day Class students hands-on experience with growing their own healthy food and an understanding of how plants grow and are harvested. In the future, I envision a larger garden area to support other Life Skills classrooms on our campus.

    Number of students reached: 15 Grade: 4-6
  • Shaun Rickerl

    "From Chick to Hen and Back Again"

    Sandia Academy, San Bernardino County

    I am a Kindergarten teacher and also run an after school agriculture club. Through our program, children in grades K-8 learn about poultry through hands on activities. Students see the life cycle from egg to hen. A culminating activity every year is to go to our local county fair and show our chickens. Currently, we are in need of a new incubator to replace our old one that is no longer operational. Through this project, students will learn where eggs come from, the difference between free range eggs and eggs from the grocery store, and the process of an egg hatching in an incubator.

    Number of students reached: 26 Grade: K-8
  • Suzanne Squires

    "Barrels of Fun"

    Los Olivos School, Santa Barbara County

    We are going to add wine barrel gardeners around our cement area to plant flowers and herbs in. The barrels will provide a small working garden that can provide food, flowers and a natural environment for all students to learn about where food comes from as well as other important agricultural commodities. This will also add a natural barrier around our outdoor area, that includes agriculture.

    Number of students reached: 16 Grade: 3
  • Tina Nunes

    "Turlock FFA OH Plant Sale"

    Turlock High School, Stanislaus County

    The environmental horticulture students manage a 24' x 60' greenhouse, eight garden beds, and a lathe house. Last year, the greenhouse was refurbished and the students began to install new irrigation. Six out of the eight vegetable beds have new drip irrigation and the drip and mist lines have been completed on the raised benches in the greenhouse. This year the students will complete the overhead drip lines for all hanging plants. This will consist of four lines equaling 160' of irrigation tubing, drop lines, emitters, and all fittings. My goal is for my students to develop a passion for plants and their care. Students also leave my class with basic horticulture and landscape skills that will help them with a future career, hobby, and around their home. In addition to learning the construction skills, my students understand the importance of water conservation and how drip irrigation plays a key role.

    Number of students reached: 33 Grade: 9-12