For 27 years the Kern County Farm Bureau has been hosting the Teachers Ag Seminar. The three-day seminar took place July 22nd through the 24th, and 45 teachers attended from around California. A seminar designed for K-12 educators, the purpose is to provide them with the knowledge of where California’s food and fiber come from and to introduce them to the wonderful people who make agriculture successful in our state. Tours of multiple facilities were part of the program this year, including the Kern County Fair School Garden, Cattlemen’s Auction Yard, Red House Beef, and South Valley Farms.
Pam Brunni was the coordinator for the program this year. She has been working as a volunteer on this program for eleven years. She remains excited about the program as she states, “it is the chance to teach people what farmers are growing right here in their own back yard.” For example, she commented on misconceptions in the dairy industry: “when the educators get to tour a dairy, people see the truth; they realize that they had false impressions about the way dairy farmers treat their animals.” Ms. Brunni added, “We know that we may not be able to teach all of the students, but we can at least teach their teachers and hope they take back what they’ve learned to incorporate into their classroom curriculum.”
Some educators attend more than once. Often many request to come back over multiple years, typically two or three times. To Pam Brunni this is how success is measured, “when they ask to return, I know our program was a success.”
During our interview success was evident. Kyle Johnson a kindergarten teacher at Horace Mann School heard about the program and had to attend. While attending she also received continuing education credits from Cal State Bakersfield. Kyle was praising Brunni and all the volunteers that made the program a success and mentioned that she would return and recommend that other teachers attend as well.
After Johnson walked away, the smile on Brunni’s face showed her satisfaction in knowing this program made a difference.
Husband and wife Tiffany and William LeClair were also in attendance. Both teachers teach at Plantation Elementary; Tiffany teaches 3rd and William 4th grade. For many years Tiffany has wanted to participate but hasn’t been able to until this year. The program by far exceeded her expectations. “I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “This program exposed me to a side of the Ag Industry I didn’t know existed. Farmers are open, very generous, and passionate about what they do in agriculture.”
William LeClair added: “most of the kids in society have lost touch with where their food comes from. This will help us to communicate the process and the importance of agriculture. It will help us to open our students’ eyes.”
“There was some much engineering that went into the processing room, the scope of the hull processing was amazing,” commented William. “Careers in agriculture are more than driving a tractor or riding a horse.”
To learn more or to recommend a teacher you know to attend the program you can email Kernag_ed@yahoo.com.