Most people today are at least five generations removed from the farm. That means more often than not, today’s youth do not understand where their food comes from or how it is grown and raised.
Many do not even realize how much they rely on agriculture for food, clothing, and even fuel.
The California Foundation’s Ag in the Classroom program is designed to bring the farms and ranches of California to the classroom, giving children an opportunity to learn about agriculture in the state. The Almond Board of California (ABC) participates in this program to educate thousands of students each year about the life cycle and end uses of almonds.
From presentations to interactive video, ABC is committed to teaching the next generation about the importance of the almond industry - and agriculture as a whole - to the State of California and its residents.
Today’s consumers are conscious of many factors that help drive their food purchasing decisions - nutritional attributes, growing practices and costs - just to name a few. Combine this with the children of today, who are always watching - watching what products make it into the grocery basket, watching food be prepared, and watching how money is spent - and together, you have very educated and powerful consumers for today and for tomorrow.
By educating children in a fun and exciting way, they learn the benefits of consuming California almonds, and how - through snacking, main entrées, and dessert items - families can lead an active life and enjoy the powerful crunch of almonds.
Machinery is a hit
Students are often excited to learn about the machinery used in almond orchards, particularly the almond shaker. They are also surprised to see how important bees are to almonds. Most students think bees only produce honey, so to understand the method of pollination as a key science is learning for them.
The ABC recognized early on that interactivity is useful when teaching students about the almond industry. The Board developed two resources - “An Almond Story” activity book, and the companion “An Almond Story” video. While the two resources can be used separately, they are more effective when used together.
The activity book includes lessons tailored to third graders, but the range of activities can be enjoyed by all elementary school students. Activities include a maze, an art sheet, math problems, language arts lessons, geography, recycling, and cooking.
More than 70,000 copies of the activity book have been distributed to participating schools at no charge the book was created in 2009.
The number of students who learn about California almonds continues to increase each year, many of them thanks to dedicated industry members who understand the value of ag education and take time out of their busy schedules to present at elementary schools. The effects of these presentations have had a water-drop effect that can’t fully be measured.
After the kids learn about almonds in their classroom, they are likely to go home and tell their parents and siblings, and before you know it, they’re telling others all the cool things they learned about growing and consuming almonds.
Also tailored for third graders is the ABC’s new “An Almond Story” video which tells the California almond story from the perspective of a bee left behind in the orchard after the pollination season is over.
In the video, which combines animation with live action, Auntie Bee describes the entire almond-growing process, from Bee to A, to Little Bee as a bedtime story.
Calling California almond country “Bee Heaven,” Auntie Bee relates her observation of bloom to pollination to kernel development, hull split, harvest, processing, shipping, and back to winter dormancy.
The materials are resonating with students, and a greater recognition of the importance of agriculture and almonds is becoming clear.
As one student who participated in the Ag in the Classroom presentation stated in a thank-you letter to the Almond Board, “I learned there were different kinds of almonds. I learned there are two boxes of bees for pollination.”
The power and influence of this seven-minute video is incredible. It’s mind-blowing what students learn and remember, including almond harvest equipment names, key industry vocabulary, and the complete growing process. Usually, a classroom can name anywhere from 10-12 different ways people can enjoy almonds.
Most classrooms erupt in laughter when Little Bee says, “What the heck’s an almond, Auntie Bee?” Unsurprisingly, this is the favorite part of the video for second- and third graders.
The Almond Board of California is proud to be involved in the Ag in the Classroom program and its success. Most of the students we reach will never grow up to be involved in agriculture.
Yet this program provides information to help them form a positive attitude towards the almond industry and its importance to the State of California.