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California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom

2021-2022 Literacy for Life Grant Recipients

  • Jami Beck, Outstanding Educator

    Jami Beck

    "Forever Foods!"

    Three Rivers Elementary School, Tulare County

    My project is to bring agriculture and food into my classroom through the use of literacy. Books will be selected that are Read Aloud and Guided Reading compatible while featuring different cultures. Culture is important. We all come from different backgrounds and it is important to embrace these differences. This project will help students appreciate their own families, food, culture, and differences. This project will encourage curiosity. This project will also get students to think about where their food comes from. Food is forever. We cannot survive without it. This project will not only encourage students to read, but it will also encourage them to try different foods.

  • Christine Arnesen

    "From Pizza to Plate"

    Serrania Charter for Enriched Studies, Los Angeles County

    From Pizza to Plate will integrate with our current Social Studies program to demonstrate to how our food is grown, picked, cleaned, and then prepared for a healthy meal. Students will improve the soil in our current school garden, plant seeds, tend to the plants and, when finally ready, pick the produce. We will then prepare the food so we can create mini pizzas. We will be pairing with a kindergarten class, our "Study Buddies" to accomplish this.

  • Stacian Bates

    "Cherry Valley After-School Garden"

    Springs Charter School, Riverside County

    We are beginning an after school program this year. The program will support students in social emotional learning, stem, play and academics. As the organizer for the program I will be using the garden project as the center of the program.

  • Rachel Bizzotto

    "Garden to Table Demo Station"

    Sandburg Middle School, Los Angeles County

    We will set up a cooking demonstration table and show students in my garden elective class how to turn food from our school garden into tasty treats they may have never tried before. A rolling demonstration cart will be utilized so all cookware is kept organized in one central location so that cooking demonstrations can be executed with ease. Three key pieces of cookware will be purchased for the demonstrations including a blender/food processor, cook top, and convection oven/air fryer.

  • Tammy Burris

    "Photosynthesis Reaction"

    Grace Davis High School, Stanislaus County

    Students will conduct an experiment to determine the role of carbon dioxide in photosynthesis reaction. They will be able to set up an experiment to prove that as the photosynthesis reactions occur, plants convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates which is stored energy. While oxygen gas is a product of the light reactions, carbon dioxide is a reactant for the carbon cycle. This experiment will allow students to witness photosynthesis and the carbon cycle.

  • Julie Cates

    "Nuggets on Mars - CA Style"

    Linwood Elementary, Tulare County

    #NuggetsOnMars was originally written by Sarah Fuller Moore and Matthew Koci, Ph.D. of North Carolina. The project is designed to ignite curiosity, creativity, and problem solving in the area of agricultural production and the future of humanity with possible life on Mars. The general purpose is to fully develop understanding of plant parts, growth, and production as it relates to human and animal use, as well as meat production within the limitations of the planet Mars. Correlations are made between plant and animal production on Earth and in space. Sixth grade students will study the life cycle of chickens, chicken feed (plant cycles and production), and poultry processing on Earth and within the confines of the planet Mars. Included is our first grade buddy class, as their class will share use of the egg incubator as part of their science standards.

  • Kimberly DeBono

    "3rd Grade Chef's Agricultural Advocacy!"

    Tom Kitayama Elementary, Alameda County

    We are learning to cook and make dishes that represent the different cultures of our classroom. The project is called "3rd Grade Chefs." In doing this, we are focusing our skills on learning math concepts, reading about a variety of vegetables in cultural dishes, and writing a variety of genres. The goal is to make their learning relevant to them, honoring where they come from, making learning fun, and reinforcing the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the connection our food has to environmental conservation.

  • Vanessa Fanchin

    "Sensational Succulents"

    St. Patrick Catholic School, San Diego County

    Our program will expand our existing gardens to include two new raised beds dedicated to succulents. The students will accomplish this by building new raised beds for succulents, learning how to propagate succulents using cuttings, and finding the best soil recipe for these succulents. Once the succulents are established, students will learn how to clip cuttings from these established plants to propagate new succulents. These succulent cuttings will be planted in pots and then sold at our annual Spring Garden Market. The earnings from these sales will be used to purchase pots, soil components, and a variety of decorative gravel to continue the cycle of providing succulents at the Garden Market to our school community.

  • Karen Fleming

    "Hatching a Reader"

    Harvest Middle School, Napa County

    Our class will learn about heritage-breed chickens. They will then research the various ways to set up a place to safely raise chicks and the space requirements that will be needed when the chicks are fully grown. Students will create the ideal space for the chicks as well as future housing for the laying hens. Once the chicks are delivered, the students will be responsible for the chicks and their growing needs.

  • Tracie Garfinkle

    "Come Grow With Us!"

    Sycamore Elementary, Ventura County

    This grant will help us create a school garden/outdoor classroom to engage students in hands-on learning across all subject areas, with a specific focus on science and the ultimate aim of providing better experiential learning opportunities for our students. Monte Vista, another school in our district, is donating soil and plants so that we can get started. We would like to complete our garden area so that our kids will feel welcomed by purchasing items such as decomposed granite and a potting bench.

  • Laura Gonzalez

    "Back to the Roots"

    Otay Elementary School, San Diego County

    Our Back to the Roots project will benefit the entire school. Each grade level will have the opportunity to participate in nutrition and garden lessons over a 6 week period. Our students will be growing, harvesting and preparing fruits and vegetables that many have never tasted before. We have a beautifully connected curriculum where students are gardening and then working in a nutrition lab to see how they can transform the ingredients harvested from the garden.

  • Mason Greeley

    "Exploring Agriculture in Tehama County"

    Lassen Antelope Volcanic Academy, Tehama County

    This grant will allow our class to partner with one or more of the local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) companies. This partnership would ensure delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables to our school that come from the community where the students live. Many of our students do not know what grows or have tried what grows near to their homes. Visiting farms, having farmers visit our school and incorporating books about agriculture from local authors are all a part of the grant project.

  • Jane Hills

    "Wings and Water In Unison!"

    Pacific Union Elementary, Fresno County

    Students will set up a self contained butterfly habitat to learn about metamorphosis and hydroponics. Malva plants, a natural food source for painted lady butterflies, will grow and blossom using a hydroponics system. Students will watch as the plants grow and the caterpillars pupate and then emerge as butterflies.

  • Jeremy Johnson

    "Garden Library"

    Sonora High School, Orange County

    Planting the seed for agricultural awareness in an elementary school student can have endless benefits. This year, Sonora FFA is reaching out to the community through a variety of projects that connect community members with their food and the FFA. This project consists of building a community outdoor library by the Sonora FFA Agriculture Mechanics students that will be installed in the Ladera Palma Elementary School’s garden. We want to build this connection through literature and provide a resource that will spark interest in a local elementary school’s garden and garden club. Teachers will be able to use the library as class or students can read the books at their leisure during recess. The school also connects students with their extracurricular garden club that will use the books to enhance lessons and projects they are working on. It is hoped that the project will be a pilot and we can continue to add garden libraries for other schools in our community.

  • Jassue Kutz

    "VVHS Garden"

    Valley View High School, Riverside County

    Inspired by the book titled Asphalt to Ecosystems by Sharon Gamson Danks, we will transform our school into a green space that can be brought into the classroom. We will create a garden that is comfortable, enjoyable, and sustainable. The students are so excited to transform our school that they have created an eco club on campus to generate interest with students schoolwide. We believe that school grounds need to be transformed to foster our biological curiosity to live with nature. My goal is to create my instructional time into a final unit called Farm to Table at the end of the year using our own school garden. I want the garden to be a location on the school map and integrated into our school culture. Creating opportunities for hands-on learning promotes children's health, construction of positive social environments, landscapes that connect with nature, the cultivation of healthy fresh food for student consumption, and the provision of spaces that facilitate a diversity of interactions among different races. Gardening is not limited by what genes you have, or the color of your skin, this wonderful activity is inclusive and inviting to all backgrounds.

  • Chris Lavagnino


    Ronald Reagan, Madera County

    Using the raised garden boxes we already have, the 4th grade team at Ronald Reagan Elementary would like to share the grant money to adopt a box for the year to grow various crops and horticulture to be shared with our families and the community. Because fourth grade social studies focuses on the state of California, this project will greatly support hands-on student access to our existing units of study.

  • Sarah Leon

    "Jamul Elementary School Gardening Program"

    Jamul Elementary School, San Diego County

    Jamul Elementary School offers a gardening and nutrition program. This upcoming year will be our third year. Being a Title I school, our children face food insecurity and food scarcity. Our goal this year is to implement a little free library for all of our children to supplement all lessons across all grade levels. The teachers will be able to check out books at the end of each gardening lesson and bring them to their classroom for students to enjoy until the next lesson. In this way, the gardening curriculum, which brings the children so much joy in an outdoor setting, can be brought indoors in order to assist the children on their reading journey.

  • Stacy Mikkelson

    "Garden Revamp"

    Pierpont Elementary, Ventura County

    Our garden space has fallen into disrepair. This project will support our garden and serve our needs for years. We need new student tools and a shed to house these tools. An irrigation system will also be installed in our garden. This grant will supply lumber to remake our garden boxes up to code and make them ready for planting and will provide an outdoor work table so we can prepare plantings.

  • Shannon Mo

    "Lockwood Composting Program!"

    Lockwood STEAM Academy, Alameda County

    Our project is to build a three-bin composting system for our school garden at Lockwood STEAM Academy. Currently, we have a small vermicomposting setup that is used for lesson demonstrations. The students love our worms and have been especially interested in watching the food scraps they put in slowly "disappear" or decompose! Although well-loved, this system is not especially productive. Most of the green waste and food scraps produced at our school go into the city compost and is processed off-campus. A 3-bin compost would give us the means to create our own closed-loop composting system, where waste produced on campus can be transformed into compost and used in our garden!

  • Gavin Schroter

    "Operation: Green Thumb"

    Central Coast New Tech High School, San Luis Obispo County

    Our schools environmental science classes will be designing and implementing a new garden site to help educate our students and community about sustainable agriculture and what is needed for healthy plants to grow. We will be gaining some background knowledge in sustainable agriculture by creating self contained algae bottles experimenting with different nutrients needed for plants to survive. We will be modifying the types of nutrients available to them to observe the impacts it has on their growth. For example, adding in Nitrogen and Phosphorus, but excluding Potassium to see what is does to the growth of the algae (and learn its importance in plants).

  • Allison Tenzer

    "California's Agricultural History"

    Serrania Charter for Enriched Studies, Los Angeles County

    Our Social Studies curriculum consists of the history of California, from Native Americans to present. Students will plant three gardens. The first garden will be representative of what California Native Americans planted. The second garden will be modeled after the Mission and Rancho period of time. The last garden will focus on California's Central Valley and its importance to agriculture.

  • Eron Truran

    "Seed Starting: Start to Finish"

    East Palo Alto Charter School, San Mateo County

    Our seed starting project will teach students about garden planning, seed starting, seedling care, and eventually soil preparation, and transplanting. Starting with garden planning, students will learn about the process of choosing what to grow in our school garden. They will help choose types of plants and varieties. Students will then have the opportunity to plant the seeds and watch them grow inside the classroom. While they wait for their seedlings to grow, they will participate in preparing the garden soil with compost, and when it's time, plant their seedlings outside. As a year-round school, students won't miss too much during the summer as their plants continue maturing.

  • Amy Vincent

    "Perennial Project"

    Green Acres Elementary, Santa Cruz County

    Students will grow perennial plants from seed & transplant to harvest. They will observe the whole life cycle of the vegetable crops. Research shows that kids that grow and harvest their own food tend to appreciate the foods they eat. It is empowering to grow, harvest and eat food they care for. All students will be part of our perennial taste testing during garden times. Kinder-5th grade classes will visit the gardens each week and will participate in tending and harvesting the garden.

  • Breanna Westenbroek

    "Heartland LANE (Local Agriculture & Nutrition Education)"

    Heartland Charter School, Kern County

    The purpose of Heartland LANE is to demonstrate for students the importance of healthy eating, the role of agriculture in our local community, where our food comes from, the hard work of local farmers, the opportunities within agriculture for students' future careers, and the direct impact of healthy eating and agriculture on their daily lives. Each month will include a blend of in-person field trips to local farms and park days with hands-on Taste & Teach learning experiences.

  • Andrea Wheeless

    "Raised Gardens"

    Charlie Keyan Armenian Community School, Fresno County

    This project will allow our class to obtain two raised planter boxes to plant various vegetables, herbs, and flowers from seeds and seedlings that grow well in the Fresno County. The planters will be in a low traffic area of the school visible from one of our classroom windows. Students will have access to the area to plant the gardens, water them, and observe the growth of the gardens. Students will observe the gardens through pictures and written statements and record their observations on bar graph, describe relative position of plants by using two references (above, next to), and make new observations as plants grow and change. Students will also take a field trip to a Farmers Market to discover what other types of food are grown in the Central Valley and take a field trip to a raisin-packing company.