Ag Day at the Capitol

Ag Day Celebration at the Capitol

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor


In honor of National Agriculture Week, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) will partner with the California Women for Agriculture and the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom to host the state’s annual celebration of agriculture, California Ag Day at the Capitol in Sacramento tomorrow, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Karen Ross, secretary of the CDFA, said she is excited for the event, which highlights the diversity of California’s agriculture.

National ag day logo“Our theme for this year’s Annual Ag Day at the Capitol is ‘Golden State on Your Plate,'” said Ross, “to honor our farmers and ranchers and all they provide. Legislators, staffers and the public will have the opportunity to shake a farmer’s hand and advance our shared understanding of the importance of our food supply. In addition to approximately 40 agricultural booths and exhibits, Buttercup the electronic cow, a favorite of children, will return to the Capitol for robotic milking demonstrations.  

“We’ve been watching the weather,” Ross said, cautiously. “We would not mind being in the rain, but it looks like we’re going to have a day of sunshine and 70-degree weather.”

Sheila Bowen, president of the California CattleWomen (CCW), said CCW and California Women for Agriculture members will attend tomorrow’s Ag Day at the Capitol, alongside many other agriculture organizations. “In addition to giving out our brochures,” Bowen said, “we’ll be giving out tri-tip sliders to the guests who come to the Capitol.”

The celebration will be held on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. for legislators and staff, and from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for the public at the California State Capitol grounds, west steps.

Ag in the Classroom

Teaching Ag in the Classroom


By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor


As the disconnect between consumers and the source of their food grows, many students do not understand where their food comes from. California teachers are doing their part to bridge the educational gap by teaching ag in the classroom.

Agriculture in the ClassroomKathy Yager, a fifth grade teacher at Fowler Unified School District, as well as a farmer, brings agriculture education to her students in several ways. “We’ve been using programs through the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom,” Yager said.

“I’ve participated in Taste Test grants,” Yager said. The grant allows teachers to bring in a new ag product, “and the students get the opportunity to try those things.” Yager said it also helps expose students to new products, and allows them to become better informDairy Council of CAed consumers in the future.

“We also have visits from the Dairy Council of California and students get to see a dairy cow and how the whole milking process works,” Yager said.

In addition Yager brings farmers, including her own brother, into the classroom to educate students, “and [they] show students how agriculture works and how a product gets from the field, to the stores, and to them.”

Healthy Eating

California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (CFAIC)

More than 7 million California students are fed, clothed and housed with products grown right here on our farms, in our fields and within our forests. California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom is dedicated to helping students and teachers across our great state gain an understanding of how agriculture provides the daily essentials necessary to make our society and our world function.

From the cotton in our jeans and the food on our tables, to our landscaped yards and playing fields, we all depend on agriculture. The survival of this vital industry depends on educating and encouraging the next generation of decision-makers. We do this by engaging students and educators in meaningful ways: developing and sharing unique classroom curriculum, supporting school garden efforts, spreading our message at local Ag Days, honoring outstanding educators, rewarding students who learn and write stories about agriculture and so much more. Programs:

Imagine this… Story Writing Contest

Meet Academic Content Standards for California schools through this creative writing contest!

Create a positive learning experience that promotes reading, writing and the arts, and furthers the understanding of agriculture in our lives by using this award-winning contest in your classroom.


State-winning authors will have their stories published in an illustrated book and will be distributed to school libraries and classrooms across the state!


Entries must be postmarked by November 1, annually.
Download entry form (PDF, 331 KB)

California Fruits and Vegetables Seasonal Chart (PDF, 18 KB)

Ag Day 2015: A beautiful day to be a farmer

California’s agricultural community gathered yesterday on the west steps of the State Capitol to show, see and share the bounty of our state’s farmers and ranchers. It was a perfect day for such a celebration (although to be perfectly honest, the farmers would have preferred rain). In keeping with the United Nations’ declaration of 2015 as the International Year of Soils, the theme for Ag Day this year was “Breaking New Ground.”

Special thanks to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s partners in organizing Ag Day, the California Women for Agriculture and the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.  Thanks also go to our emcee, Kitty O’Neal of KFBK Newsradio, as well as event sponsors the California Egg Farmers, the California Alpaca Breeders Association, the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Grown, the California State Board of Equalization, the California Strawberry Commission, the Farmer Veteran Coalition, Got Milk?, John Deere, the Kubota Tractor Company-California, and the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.


National Agriculture Week is Here

Each year, more than one-million students learn about the importance of agriculture through the efforts of California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. This spring, Agriculture in the Classroom will partner with CDFA and the California Women for Agriculture to host California Ag Day 2015 as part of National Ag Week (March 15-21).

On March 18, the State Capitol will come alive with farm animals, educational displays, and entertainment all celebrating California’s great agricultural bounty during California Agriculture Day. The theme for the 2015 event is “California Agriculture: Breaking new Ground.” A focus will be the importance of soil health to our food supply and all of agriculture.

Ag Day is the agricultural community’s annual opportunity to educate and inspire the farmers and ranchers of tomorrow, showcase new technologies, and highlight the diversity of California agriculture.

California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross, along with 12 other industry leaders, are members of the National Agriculture Week host committee. The host committee helps plan and promote special events throughout the state.

“Please join me and other leaders in agriculture as we support the education of our next generation of consumers and voters,” said Secretary Ross. “National Agriculture Week gives us the opportunity to celebrate agriculture, an industry that provides a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply, a strong economy, and a world of job opportunities.”

An additional Ag Week event will be held on March 19 at the Sacramento Kings’ Experience Center in Sacramento, to recognize student winners of Ag in the Classroom’s Imagine this… Story Writing Contest. Student authors will attend and read their stories from the newly published Imagine this… books to the audience. A southern California event will be held aboard The Queen Mary on April 2.

Since 1986, The California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, a non-profit organization, has worked to promote a greater awareness of agriculture’s role in our daily lives to California’s teachers and students. The Foundation delivers exciting, standards-based curriculum that builds students’ knowledge of the farmers and ranchers who produce the food, clothing, and shelter they use every day. Agriculture in the Classroom programs reach far beyond the classroom walls and into the lives of California’s students and their families.

Secretary Ross Joins Ag in the Classroom Event

By: Monique Bienvenue; Cal Ag Today Social Media Manager/Reporter

More than 220 California educators and volunteers attended an annual California Agriculture in the Classroom Conference earlier this month to learn about agriculture and connecting Common Core to California crops. The conference, hosted by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (CFAITC), was held October 16-18 in Santa Cruz County and provided participants with free resources and valuable avenues for teaching Common Core, STEM, and school garden/nutrition lessons.

The program, designed for educators, administrators, and community volunteers, presented opportunities to explore the agricultural industry and enhance existing curriculum with examples and scenarios about food and fiber production.

California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross welcomed the group of educators along with Dr. Jim Painter, professor emeritus at Eastern Illinois University. Renee Shepherd, owner of Renee’s Garden, also spoke to the educators and Michael Marks, Your Produce Man, closed the conference with trivia about the more than 400 crops grown in California. Conference participants were able to experience the variety of agriculture at the conference and were able to learn directly from leading agricultural experts.

In her comments, Secretary Ross shared the importance of California agriculture, emphasizing the many things that stem from from agriculture, and helped teach the educators the 5 F’s of agriculture – Food, Fiber, Forests, Flowers, and Fuel.

From cut flowers and strawberries to artichokes and timber, Santa Cruz County is the smallest agriculture producing county in California in land mass and one of the most diverse.

The California Ag in the Classroom conference empowers attendees to return to their classrooms and school communities confident and capable of sharing the importance of agriculture’s significant impact on California and its economy with their students.


Six California student authors were recognized for their state-winning stories in the Imagine this… Story Writing Contest. On Wednesday, March 19, the students and their teachers were honored during a ceremony at the California State Capitol in the Governor’s Council Room.

California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, along with several legislative members and staff representing various districts throughout the state, attended the ceremony to honor the students for their academic achievements.

The state-winning authors received medals, e-readers, books, artwork, and resources for their teachers from California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (CFAITC).

The following third through eighth grade students were selected from more than 8,000 entrants for their creativity, writing skills, and positive interpretation of California’s agriculture industry:

  • Rose Velasquez, 3rd grade, McSwain Elementary School (Merced county) for her story, The Pink Shirt
  • Evan Johns, 4th grade, Gratton Elementary School (Stanislaus county) for his story, The Incident
  • Jake Martin, 5th grade, Sacred Heart Catholic School (Stanislaus county) for his story, Luigi’s Pride
  • Creed Newton, 6th grade, Scott Valley Jr. High School (Siskiyou county) for his story, Branding Day on Our Ranch
  • Allyson Wei, 7th grade, San Gabriel Christian School (Los Angeles county) for her story, Strawberry Troublemakers
  • Morgan Hicks, 8th grade, Gratton Elementary School (Stanislaus county) for her story, Raineo and Dropulete

Hundreds of California teachers participate in this annual contest by assigning their students the task of researching an aspect of agriculture and challenging them to incorporate these facts into their own creative story.

The success of this contest is bolstered by meeting state English-language arts teaching requirements and by providing an opportunity for students to explore topics of which they previously had limited knowledge.

“We are excited to recognize these students for their writing achievements and their better understanding of farming through the Imagine this… Story Writing Contest. We encourage the students to continue learning about the vital role agriculture plays in our daily lives,” said CFAITC executive director, Judy Culbertson.

The contest’s purpose is to promote reading, writing, and the arts while furthering the public’s understanding of agriculture. Stories are posted online at

For more information, contact Stephanie Etcheverria, Program Coordinator at 800-700-AITC.

Ag Day at the State Capitol

WHAT: On Wednesday, March 19, The California Department of Food and Agriculture will partner with the California Women for Agriculture and the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom to host the annual California Ag Day. This year’s theme is, “Common Ground: Celebration, Innovation, Education.”

Exhibits will include advances in aquaculture and a demonstration of robotics featuring an electronic milking cow named Buttercup.

Ag Day will recognize the centennial anniversary of the University of California’s Office of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which has helped stimulate a culture of innovation in California agriculture during its 100-year history of bringing knowledge from academic research laboratories to farmers and ranchers throughout California.

The event will also include the announcement of a new partnership between CA Grown and Visit California – celebrating the collaboration between farmers and chefs to make California a culinary destination for millions.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 19, 2014

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ~ Legislators and staff tour booths

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ~ Open to the public

WHO: CDFA Secretary Karen Ross

California Women for Agriculture President Lynn Figone

California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom Executive Director Judy Culbertson

University of California Office of Agriculture and Natural Resources President Barbara Allen-Diaz

Visit California President and CEO Carolyn Beteta

California Farm Bureau Federation First Vice-President Kenny Watkins

WHERE: California State Capitol Building, west steps.

WHY: Ag Day is an annual event to recognize California’s agricultural community by showcasing the numerous commodities that are produced in our state.

It is also a day for the agricultural community to show its appreciation by bringing together state legislators, government leaders and the public for agricultural education and healthy treats.

March is National Nutrition Month, California Agriculture Rules!

National Nutrition Month (NNM) this year focuses on following the Dietary Guidelines recommendations by combining taste and nutrition to create healthy meals. Consumer research confirms that taste tops nutrition as the main reason why one food is purchased over another. While social, emotional and health factors also play a role, the foods people enjoy are likely the ones they eat most.

NNM is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. NNM also promotes the Academy and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically based food and nutrition information.

University of California Cooperative Extension – Imperial County is ready for NNM’s theme this year, “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” Eating right can be challenging as healthy foods are often misunderstood to be bland, flavorless, boring, and not worth the time, but this isn’t always true! Eating right can be delicious, flavorful, quick, and easy, and enjoyable.

California Walnuts wants to help consumers defend health all year round, and especially during National Nutrition Month. Their message is including whole foods like walnuts as part of a healthy diet can provide valuable nutrition that defend against diseases. The Natural Defender’s Toolkit has a variety of components that can be used to track personal health and learn more about nutrition.

The BMI Chart allows people to find their BMI value based on height and weight. The Cholesterol Tracker allows people to track cholesterol levels after every doctor’s visit, along with exercise and diet goals. The Medicine Tracker aids folks in keeping track of medications. And, finally, the Personal Prevention Record helps defend people’s health against many preventable diseases. Use the forms in the Natural Defenders Toolkit, complete with nutrition tips from experts, to help people get started on a path towards wellness today.

The California Cling Peach Board suggests as we continue on through the month, we want to make sure we maintain a strong emphasis on the importance of nutrition.

California Strawberry Commission urges, “Just Add Strawberries for National Nutrition Month.”

Melissa Tamargo, on the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Blog, says to choose fresh foods that are naturally low in sodium such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs and milk. 

UC California Agricultural Tourism Directory instructs us to read the Nutrition Facts label to choose low-sodium foods and look for terms like “no added salt.”

The Hass Avocado Board tells us to celebrate National Nutrition Month with an avocado-focused menu. Avocados make a great dip for chips and veggies or a flavorful sandwich spread. For creative ideas on how to add Fresh Hass Avocados to menu, stop by

Why not celebrate National Nutrition Month by taste-testing different varieties of the same crop, as suggested by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. Try some pears, for instance. After all, according to the CDFA, California provides us with more than 400 choices!




         Author: Melissa Tamargo