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Virtual Farm Day brings agriculture to state’s students

Issue Date: March 24, 2021
By Ching Lee
Rebecca Bailey from the Almond Board of California makes her presentation during California Farm Day, which was streamed live to thousands of elementary students across the state.
Photo/Charles Williams
Students from Fairmont Elementary in Sanger watch the online program, which was focused on California’s top 10 agricultural products.
Photo/Christine Torosian-Klistoff

Thousands of elementary students from California learned about the state's 10 most valuable farm commodities during a virtual event that brought farmers and other agricultural representatives to computer screens in classrooms.

An estimated 200 teachers and 5,000 students in third to sixth grades registered for the two-hour event, California Farm Day, which was streamed live last week from Silt Wine Co. in Clarksburg, according to Judy Culbertson, executive director of the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, which hosted the event.

The program, moderated by California Bountiful TV host Tracy Sellers, featured the commodities during talks by farmers and commodity group representatives.

CFAITC hosted two previous Farm Days—in 2018 and 2019—in which students gathered outside the California Farm Bureau building in Sacramento.

Noting that the 2020 Farm Day was canceled due to the pandemic, Culbertson said CFAITC decided to produce a virtual event this year because the organization "didn't want to go another year without this important outreach."

"The advantage of going virtual is that we could accommodate more than 5,000 students rather than limiting it to 1,000," she said.

Culbertson said CFAITC developed a downloadable workbook so students could follow along during the webcast as they learned about commodities. CFAITC sent a backpack and snacks—donated by commodity groups and businesses—to the first 1,000 students who registered.

California Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross opened the virtual event by highlighting the state's diverse agricultural production—and the different employment opportunities in the field.

"When you learn about agriculture, I hope you'll think about the jobs that are there for you," she said, noting that the state Department of Food and Agriculture employs scientists, chemists, entomologists, veterinarians, technicians, writers and others.

Each presentation incorporated science, nutrition, cooking, even art.

For example, Mary Madera, a plant biologist at the University of California, Davis, demonstrated how to extract DNA from strawberries using common household ingredients. Janelle Seebeck of Tanimura and Antle in Salinas used the stumps of romaine lettuce, dipped in paint, to create images of flowers. Alec Wasson of the Tomato Products Wellness Council made English muffin pizzas with tomato sauce. David Ogilvie of Wilson Vineyards showed how he measures brix in grapes using a refractometer. Brooke Bachmann of Henderson Farms in Arbuckle shared her recipe for walnut trail mix, and Sonia Fernandez of the Dairy Council of California showed students how to make homemade butter.

In other presentations, Marty Espe from Flora Fresh created a flower bouquet; Lee Smith of Liberty Pistachio showed students where pistachios originated; Jill Scofield of the California Beef Council talked about the nutrients in beef; and Rebecca Bailey from the Almond Board of California described the growing cycle of almond trees.

CFAITC will hold a virtual gala Friday featuring Silt Wine Co. winemaker David Ogilvie and chef Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney's B&L in Sacramento. Registration for the free event is available at

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

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