- Author: Cris L. Johnson
Specially trained and dedicated volunteers work alongside staff to deliver fun and hands-on agricultural based lessons. For many Kindergarteners, this is their first time on a farm. Getting a glimpse of where food comes from, planting seeds and learning what makes them grow are unforgettable experiences. Older students delve deeper into plant growth and development, discover the important role pollinators play in our food system, and learn about the agricultural county where we live.
Picking and sampling farm fresh vegetables such as beets, carrots, sugar snap peas, and lettuce are favorite activities with all ages and a great way to introduce MyPlate, the newest USDA guide to healthy eating choices, and encourage daily physical activity. What can be better than getting your hands dirty, smelling the rich Santa Paula soil, and eating vegetables you helped harvest? Children aren’t the only visitors. Over 300 parents and teachers will visit, learn, and munch alongside youth.
The cost of buses makes a trip to the farm prohibitive for many schools. When visiting the farm is not an option, lessons delivered in the classroom bring the farm to life. The 4-H Classroom Outreach Program is an opportunity to learn about agriculture without leaving the school grounds.
Yes, it’s a busy and exciting time. Happy spring!
- Author: Brad Miller
Hello, my name is Brad Miller. I am a new social media intern and will be contributing to the ANR blogs this summer. My mother, Susana, is an employee of the University of California Cooperative Extension office and has been a registered dietitian since before I was born. This meant that I grew up in a house a little different than that of most kids. Ever since I was a toddler, I have had a sweet tooth. But because of Mom being a dietitian, I was rarely satisfied with my not-so-sugary diet. While other kids were allowed to have Lucky Charms, Sunny D, and Lunchables, I was stuck with wheat bread, whole grain Cheerios, and carrots. I would always complain that my friends had “cool moms” who would feed them these delicious treats. It was hard for me as a kid to appreciate what my Mom was doing for me. As I grew up, the same kids who I had envied before became larger and larger as I maintained a healthy weight.
Recently, I began to realize the value of my diet and how lucky I really was. Two years ago, when I graduated from high school and moved on to college, I was finally on my own. This meant that I had control of many things in my life, including my diet. To be 18 years old and free to eat and drink whatever I wanted seemed great at first. I used my food money to fund a diet that would make my mother cringe. However, after about a year of Hot Pocket indulgences and limited exercise, I had an epiphany; this was not a healthy lifestyle. I had gained over ten pounds and had never been in worse shape in my whole life. I blame this transformation partially on Cal Poly’s campus dining, but mostly myself. The following year, I made it a goal to become a healthier person. I exercised more often and made an effort to reduce my Hot Pocket cravings. As a result, I lowered my weight to a manageable level and now feel less like a lazy couch potato.
My first year at college taught me many things, but most importantly, how I should not eat the things that I would have loved to eat growing up. My mother’s meals never tasted better when I visited home. Never would I complain again about carrots and whole grains, instead I would embrace them. My mom was the real “cool mom” I just never realized it when I was little. To be in a position as a child that forced me to eat healthier than most kids was truly a blessing.