- Author: Sam Urie
Holtville, CA –
Nearly 250 local high school students from Calexico, Imperial, Southwest, Holtville and Central Union high schools visited UC FARM SMART the first week of November over five separate days. The program was a collaboration between United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hispanic Serving Institutions, led by Regional Director Roberto Gonzalez, and the UC FARM SMART Program. The program was titled “Agrilicious Research Days: From Farm to Table”.
Presenters from the University of California and the University of Arizona opened the eyes of students to potential careers in agricultural science, veterinary medicine, and more. Tanya Hodges, Academic Programs Coordinator at University of Arizona-Yuma, highlighted options for Imperial Valley students to take courses at Imperial Valley College and receive in-state tuition rates upon transfer to University of Arizona-Yuma. Among the degree programs offered are agriculture technology management and sustainable plant systems/agronomy. Tanya Hodges also promoted the USDA AgDiscovery program, a two-week summer camp for high school students interested in an agricultural career.
Students were encouraged to make career goals and to consider agricultural careers. UC FARM SMART staff Sam Urie and Stephanie Collins highlighted research being done throughout California and the effects of that research on our daily lives. Students were then given an overview of local farm practices from “farm-to-table” including soil preparation, irrigation, pest management, and harvesting.
A highlight of the program included a visit on the last day by Oscar Gonzalez, newly appointed State Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in California, and Rosa Singh, Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Imperial County. Oscar and Rosa encouraged students to take advantage of educational opportunities and Rosa Singh offered information about USDA youth loans for agricultural projects including fair animals.
Students boarded hay wagons and were given a tour of the Desert Research and Extension Center including the research feedlot, biofuel experiments, irrigation projects, and the FARM SMART vegetable garden. Each day ended with lunch and the opportunity for students to ask questions about research and agricultural careers.
- Author: Sam Urie
Julian, CA - UC FARM SMART staff visited Julian Elementary School recently for the school's celebration of Food Day. FARM SMART staff joined other presenters in highlighting foods from all over the world. FARM SMART demonstrated the many uses of corn in human and animal diets as well as ethanol and plastics. Students learned about parts of the corn plant and practiced grinding corn.
UC FARM SMART provides educational outreach to communities surrounding the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Desert Research and Extension Center in Holtville, CA.
- Author: Sam Urie
Sep. 19 - FARM SMART hosted 125 beginning agriculture science and FFA students from all over the Imperial Valley as part of the Imperial Section FFA Greehand Conference, designed to foster an interest in agriculture, science, and leadership.
Students were addressed by Dr. Khaled Bali and Dr. Sam Wang who shared experiences and motivated students to choose agriculture and the sciences as a career.
Workshops and a research field tour followed. Students confronted the widespread fear of public speaking in a workshop presented by UCCE employee Shanna Abatti, and learned about regional agriculture through a "Crops of the Valley" workshop and the field tour.
Learn more about the National FFA Organization at www.ffa.org.
- Author: Sam Urie
4-H members, FARM SMART and DREC staff, and CalFresh staff met again today to further discuss next summer's "Sustainable You!" camp to be held at DREC. 4-H members elected officers to take on responsibilities of the camp and further their leadership skills. Participants today delved deeper into the curriculum and tried out an activity called "The Importance of Water". Participants discovered just how little precious freshwater is available for use. The next meeting will be held September 10th.
- Author: Stephanie Collins
The kids are out of school, and most likely the summer heat has not zapped the energy and excitement that is naturally present in the summer. It might persuade them not to go outside much though. This means that parents may have no choice but to come up with something fun and entertaining to do indoors. Need some ideas? In fact, wouldn't it be nice if the kids could actually do something a little educational while they are being entertained indoors. Even more, what if the kids could learn about agriculture and where their food comes from… while being educational… while being fun…while being indoors. Whew, that's a lot to accomplish right? Well…listed below is just that: fun, indoor, agricultural, learning activities to do with children indoors.
- Eggshell Gardening
Next time you make eggs for breakfast, take a needle and poke a hole through the big end of the shell. This serves as a drainage hole. Then break the shells so the bottom 2/3 of the shell is intact. Save the egg carton but remove the lid. Have the child soak seeds in water for 24 hours before planting. It helps the seeds germinate faster. Place the egg shells back in the carton. Fill with wet but not soggy new potting soil. Have the child plant the seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep in the soil. Cover the egg carton and planted shells with plastic wrap. Place in a sunny window. When the seeds sprout remove the plastic wrap. You can transplant into a larger container egg shell and all.
Try planting herbs or sprouting alfalfa. These are plants that grow quickly, can be harvested easily indoors and used right away in delicious summer recipes. Check out “Alfalfa Sushi Rolls”, a FARM SMART favorite on our Facebook page.
- Root Garden
Cut the top inch off of root vegetables such as carrots, beets, turnips, and sweet potatoes. Place in flat bottom glass dishes on top of a layer of marbles. The marbles keep the cutting off the bottom and give the roots a chance to grow. More than one root cutting may be placed in the same dish. Fill the dish with water up to the crown of the cutting. The water should not submerge the cutting. Place in a sunny window and in a few days the tops will start to sprout new leaves.
It doesn't take a gardening expert to ‘get growing indoors.' Indoor gardening can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience for your children, and there are so many activities from which to choose. So whether you decide to start some plants from seed, start an herb garden, or decorate some containers, just remember to ‘Let it Grow, Let it Grow!
- Grow seeds of knowledge
Children who read throughout the summer gain skills,can start the new school year with a better understanding of language and theworld around them, and discover the joy of reading. Almost everything we dopresents an opportunity to read. When you're eating breakfast, read the cerealbox; if you're in a restaurant, read the menu. Have you ever wondered how plants grow or what it´s like to drive a tractor? There are a number of excellent books with accurate information about agriculture to satisfy your curiosity and also entertain. A few FARM SMART favorites:
- How Did That Get in My Lunch Box?
- And the Good Brown Earth
- Planting a Rainbow
- The Wheat Doll
- Watermelon Day
- A Hog Ate My Homework
- Virtual Ag
Today's kids are whizzes with computers and all things virtual/digital, so with parental monitoring, the Internet is a great source of “funucational” learning games on hundreds of subjects including agriculture and food processing.These games correspond to various aspects of agriculture: mathematical, scientific, and social. Children can play these games and learn about the concepts addressed in them while having fun. Some recommended websites are: myamericanfarm.com or kidsfarm.com or farmsfoodfun.com
Summer is one of a child's most fun and memorable seasons. But when it's just too hot to be outside, bring the outside inside with these suggestions for discovering our foods incredible journey from planting of the seed to the time we eat it.